I turned thirty just over a month ago and to say it was a rough birthday would be an understatement. Yes, I know, it’s just a number. But when you are so deeply rooted in an industry that is all about the youths and what they like and listen to, the realization that you are no longer one of those youths is a hard pill to swallow. It’s that reason that I’ve made it a point to try and catch more buzzy artists that seem to get the kids of today all wrapped up in a tizzy. That’s how I ended up at the grandson (no, I didn’t forget to capitalize the name, that how he styles it) show at First Avenue on a Tuesday night that should have been spent cleaning and packing for Chicago.
Before I could witness the phenomenon known as grandson, I got treated to a set from nothing,nowhere. (again, not forgetting to capitalize the words or put spaces and that period is part of the name– apparently the kids today have no respect for proper nouns or spaces). nothing,nowhere. is not so much a band as it is Joseph Mulherin, Although technically a solo project, Joseph doesn’t perform alone and brings his friends on tour with him to play out his music. That whole idea of just having your friends join in on chasing your dreams with you sets the stage for nothing,nowhere.’s music.
There’s something painfully raw about Joseph’s lyrics and the way they are positioned against the fluttering notes and fairly intense drumming. When people refer to music as emo rap, it’s the sound of nothing,nowhere. that comes to mind. Think Senses Fail lyrics sang by any of the hottest rappers out there with a drummer who belongs in a metal band behind it. An interesting sound that I may not quite understand, as an emo kid at heart who is always looking for new music, this could be the ticket. The music definitely isn’t an upper and is actually quite depressing when you cut it down but there was something highly energetic about nothing,nowhere.’s performance.
I may have been new to the world of nothing,nowhere. having only occasionally heard some of his tracks on random playlists but the rest of the audience at First Avenue was clearly not new to his sound. The way people were singing along to his every word and watching his every move without blinking as to not miss a single moment took me back to my days of worshiping the guys in skinny black jeans and running eyeliner as they sang the words that I sought comfort in. I may joke about the youths and their music but it was during nothing,nowhere.’s set that I realized it’s all the same as when I was a dumpster fire of a kid it just has a new sound these days.
There was a sense of staggering power when it came to grandson’s performance. Although he’s kind of just this lanky man with curly hair, he had this uncanny way of captivating everyone who was at the show last night including myself. Much like nothing,nowhere., there was a raw sense of emotion that radiated from Jordan and his band. There was a clear sense of admiration that went from audience to stage and stage to audience that, although I’ve felt before at other shows, seemed to have been magnified last night. Blame it on the impressionable age of majority of the audience or attribute it to anything else you want, the bottom line is grandson is going to be more than just a flash in the pan. The way he connects with his audiences is something that I wish there was more of in the metal scene that I so often call home.
Although I had chalked grandson up to just a king of the youths, I quickly realized that there is so much more to him and his music. The political undertones were heard loud and clear throughout his set but he didn’t make it a point to preach to the audience. Honestly, other than a quick reminder that his shows were a friendly place and everyone needed to just be aware of their surroundings and have a good time, Jordan didn’t really say much to the crowd. He didn’t need to. His music said it all. The man I had chalked up to just another hipster making music had changed my mind within a song and had me nodding and bobbing to his infectious beats by the second one.
I was so ready to judge everything about last night’s show but, when it came down to it, there was nothing to judge. I may not quite understand everything about the youths of today but last night’s show shined a little light on the fact that we are all young once and everyone is just trying to find a soundtrack that will keep them going through this thing called life. As long as the music helps you get up every day and makes you feel something, there’s no reason to bash it.