Weekend / Nothing Casa Del Popolo, Montreal QC, January 22

Weekend / Nothing Casa Del Popolo, Montreal QC, January 22
Photo: Matt Bobkin
The band Nothing work in extremes, as evidenced by the all-encompassing void that is their name and the heavy implications of the name of their upcoming debut LP, Guilty of Everything. Their penchant for extremes also came through during their set: right before the band began, a member asked the Casa Del Popolo sound engineer if he could have "all the reverb" in his monitor, and the amps were so loud they'd have likely blown out if they were cranked any higher. Like a torrential downpour, the band's music hit hard, fast and relentlessly, powering through intricately intense tunes as if the world was about to end.

The phrases "My Bloody Valentine-esque" and "nimble" are rarely placed together, but Nothing pulls them both off well, navigating through abrupt pauses and tempo shifts in tracks such as openers "Dig" and "Bent Nail" with ease. The vocals were usually washed out beneath the layers of guitars and drums, and the toque over one of the singers' microphones probably didn't help much either, but the thundering instruments provided more than enough textural compensation.

While the upcoming album's title and the band's own legal history may say otherwise — the press material for Nothing frequently mentions the fact that lead singer Dominic Palermo went to prison for two years due to stabbing someone — Nothing's biggest misdemeanour was that the set was criminally short. Much like the storm that came out of the blue, the band's set ended after a half-hour of intensity, with the band members abruptly exiting among a cacophony of sound that was quickly shut off, leaving a stunned crowd in their wake.

Californian shoegazers Weekend melded a shoegaze-y wall of sound with post-punk flair, with Shaun Durkan's vocals and hollow guitar tone contrasting with the other three musicians' grittier, crunchier sounds. This marriage of sound resulted in a beautiful union, and Weekend performed a tight set playing songs mostly culled from their 2010 debut Sports and its 2013 followup Jinx. Playing with minimal lighting, Weekend's music evoked a sense of shadowy angst; when Durkan sang that he felt "sick, sick, sick in [his] heart" during Jinx track and live highlight "Mirror," one couldn't help but believe it. The morose haze that hung over the band contrasted with their stage presence; while their words to the audience were few and far between, the band's spirited stomping up and down the stage as they performed was captivating, even as they rarely broke from the downward stare that gave the genre its name.

Their slot ended with "Coma Summer," the first track from Sports, and the amount of sound and theatrics was enough to stun any concertgoer. Several waves of fuzzy, distorted riffs, shouting vocals, hammering percussion and one flipped-over pedal board later, the song — and the night came to a haunting conclusion. The band's music was immersive and inescapable, but instead of letting it overwhelm, the quartet was able to craft a set that slyly embraced the shadows.