Playing to an electric sold-out Bodega, Nottingham’s own Do Nothing powered through a triumphant set of riotous post-punk and moody art rock in style.
The homecoming show having been my first live experience of Do Nothing, I was immediately hit with a buzz as soon as I entered the packed-out upstairs room. An eclectic audience, young and old, shared one thing in common – style – and as soon as the band hit the stage (to roaring whoops and cheers), I understood why.
Dressed in a dapper grey suit, frontman Chris Bailey looked cool and collected in front of the home audience and regardless of the tone of each of the 10 songs in the set, his fierce vocal delivery and on- stage swagger cut through the band’s dense instrumentation like a knife carving his personality onto the front facade of the band’s music. From start to finish, there was a thrilling energy in the room which exploded at the climax of each song. Talking to Chris during a champagne celebration afterwards, he told me succinctly that the show “Felt good.”
Kicking off the set was “Waitress”, their debut single (and one of two released), which instantly captured the lightning of the room into a bottle with soaring guitar solos showcasing the smoothly erratic blend of styles the band can fit into one concise indie jam. To follow would be the reason I was so eager to catch Do Nothing live; another eight songs of unreleased material, ranging from the scathing to the sombre.
On the scathing end of the spectrum were “New Life” and “Actors”. The former saw the band adopt a vast instrumental, the bass and drums allowing Chris maximum space to shout and croon, whilst the latter saw the frontman float about the stage delivering what I deciphered to be an unrelenting take on capitalism. Do Nothing occupy a vacuum somewhere between The Blinders, The Vaccines and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds yet simultaneously don’t really sound like any of them, and the varied vibes of the songs later in the set tested the sonic boundaries of their reticent breed of rock.
A tune Chris confessed had been played for “No-one except the sound guy and a couple of other people,” the brand-new track entitled “LeBron James” was an unexpected standout. Departing from the band’s trademark instrumental edginess but maintaining the memorability, Chris’ Dylan-esque references were underscored by catchy guitar licks and a thumping drum beat.
The band’s pop sensibilities were consolidated in the penultimate song of the set, “Gangs”, which saw incorporations of dance and funk flourish in an antithesis of the frontman’s cynical worldview. “Gangs” brought my undisputed lyrical highlight of the evening – “Leave people alone in the dark long enough and they’re bound to start fucking each other.” Brilliant.
When Chris announced that the set was coming to an end and there was to be no encore, the anticipation in the room hit an all-time high. The band broke straight into what is unequivocally their biggest song, “Handshakes”. Earning them over 200,000 streams and a spot on Spotify’s ‘Indie List,’ the turbulent yet slick second single saw the crowd shouting the “It’s all boring, boring boring!” bridge back at the frontman and erupting into a choral chant of the chorus in what seemed like a proud moment for the band and their supporters.
I chatted to Chris briefly after the gig about “Handshakes” and what the song means to the band:
“I’m grateful. We just had a bunch of songs together and figured out that one would be the single but never saw it doing as well as it did. We’re just grateful.”
Do Nothing’s latest single “Handshakes” is out now.