February twelfth marked American hardcore emo rap band nothing,nowhere’s debut Melbourne concert; a room not just sold out, but filled to the brink with diehard fans ready for a night of musical mayhem. As the air filled with booze and whiffs of fruity vapour reminiscent of a grungy dive-bar, there was a growing buzz of built-up energy that was set to explode.
Touring Australia with his most recent self-produced album Trauma Factory (2021), front man Joseph Mulherin’s lyrics deal with personal issues of mental health, a highly relatable topic for his young audience. With such personal connection to the music, it’s no wonder fans of nothing,nowhere were so eagerly awaiting to share the night with their idol.
Warming up the crowd was New Zealander, indie singer-songwriter, Lontalius (Eddie Johnston). Wondering onto the stage, well dressed in ironed pants and leather shoes, the alt-pop musician plugged in his MacBook and began to tune his guitar. Appearing relaxed and nonchalant, this felt like the beginning of a street performance, a one-man busking style show – this was until a heavy humming electronic bass kicked in, paired with a single spotlight shadowing across his face. The first track Comfortable boasted a gorgeous oceanic aesthetic, playing relaxed guitar chords, and singing out emotional crackling vocals ‘I said I loved you and I’ve never meant it more’.
Lontalius’ set felt exceptionally human, all his lyrics so raw, and almost intrusive. It’s a strange feeling to be let into someone’s life on such a personal level without previously knowing them. The velvety chords continued, the bass kicking in without warning – such sounds forcing the heart to jump so uniquely.
Someone Will Be There For You showcased a more layered style of music, where if you closed your eyes, a one-man band would not be what you’d imagine. With the crowd repeating ‘someone will be there for you’, a beautiful shadow cast across his face giving us a glimpse, but not providing the full picture – a metaphor for the music which let us see hints of such raw emotion, but leaves gaps for the imagination to conclude.
I Walked Right Into It was another highlight, with a stunningly moving guitar solo during the bridge which left the once lively room in silence, the tension building throughout the song. Lontalius’ performance was minimalistic, yet so well rounded. The heavy buzz of the electronic bass playing through from start to end rattled the bones of the venue, preparing the crowd for what was to come.
The room grew silent as an ambient hum suffocated the room, the sound increasing in intensity, and so too did the heartrates of the crowd. The band emerged from the darkness and before you could take a breath and soak it all in, the music had begun. Hurtling into the first track with a heavy kickdrum and lightning-speed metal guitar, CYAN1DE did not hold back. Front man and singer/rapper Joe providing his signature style of screamo vocals – it was unimaginable that he was going to maintain such power and angst for the entire set. From the first track it was clear the fans of nothing,nowhere were not the regular emo crowd, but a heavy cult-following of young people who impressively knew each and every word of the hard-hitting, emotion filled raps.
An ongoing structure of the band’s music is the lower intensity, controlled rap verses, in the lead up to viscous metal choruses. The three-piece band consisting of a drummer and two electric guitarists was so incredibly tight, not missing a beat the entire show. It was also abundantly clear that the drumer lead the tracks, with the volume and velocity being unlike anything I had heard before.
pretend did not stray from the structure of rap verses in the lead up to a huge chorus, the crowd chanting ‘tell me you need me even if you don’t’ as heavy strobe filled the room, lighting up the sold-out audience to see them moving in unison, the music acting as a puppeteer. The next song nightmare marked the first time the band addressed the crowd – not to say ‘hello’ or to make small talk but ordering them to ‘fucking jump’. Not a soul disobeyed. nothing,nowehere’s live shows are built upon the energy of their audience, the collaborative effort making for an experience that cannot be replicated on a studio album.
The night played out like a rollercoaster of adrenaline, the highs exceeding levels I once thought possible, and the contrasting lows leaving the crowd wanting more. Part way through the emo hit love or chemistry, the music abruptly came to a stop, Joe yelling ‘Melbourne are you still with us? I want you to prove it right now!’ This was a call to action for the crowd to take their energy to the next level – and they did not hold back. lights (4444), one of their slower-paced tracks filled the room with an ethereal feel, being backed by the sound of water droplets. However, the lyrics did not follow suit, providing the signature sound and grunge sentiment screaming ‘I don’t give a fuck if you hate me’.
The night so far had been highly performative and based on the emo-hardcore persona of the band; so, when Joe bought his girlfriend Hillary on stage and asked the crowd to sing Happy Birthday, it was a beautiful, human moment that I’m sure the fans feel so honoured to have shared. Even within all the chaos and commotion, it was clear this group of individuals shared a lot of love for one another.
If pulled apart and digested as intended, there are many nothing,nowhere songs that are filled with positive themes. Pieces of you and fake friend were a break from the darkness, anthems about letting go of your worries about what others think of you. It was at this stage that the band became more a part of the crowd, jumping taped sections of the stage, and climbing up barricades to be fully emersed in the tail-end of the show.
Clarity in Kerosene was clearly a fan favourite, everyone with their phones in the air trying to capture the moment on video, the crowd singing the agonising lyrics in unison ‘I hope you choke in your sleep, while you’re dreaming of me’. Hopes Up was performed beautifully in compete darkness, being lit up only by the speckles of smartphone flashlights – replicating stars in a night sky. Joe’s movement across the stage remained so seamless, it is clear these are his songs and his words.
It was at this point of the night that the band had the room’s actions at their fingertips – and they were about to cause some havoc. Their newest single M1SERY_SYNDROME, is rife with gorgeous repetitive guitar riffs hiding behind the violent chaos of the drums and bass. The heat of the music physically manifested its way into the crowd, with the force of a thousand bodies surging forward. A wall of death formed in the middle of the crowd, and at that point all control was lost. It is a rare occurrence to see such uninhibited, 90s-style moshing in today’s music scene, but this concert saw bodies flying through space - a sense of bliss in delirium.
As quickly as they took to the stage, the band was off. But from the wings you could hear Joe murmur ‘one more song you say?’, hammer was an invitation for the crowd to give off every last ounce of energy they had; the crowd soaked with sweat and short of breath. nothing,nowhere departed the stage for the last time in the blink of an eye, the whole event feeling like a dream - or rather a gorgeous nightmare.