Innocent Until Proven Guilty of Shoegazing

By A. J. UrquidiApril 2, 2024

Innocent Until Proven Guilty of Shoegazing
SLIDE AWAY FEST featuring NOTHING PERFORMING GUILTY OF EVERYTHING and friends, The Belasco, Los Angeles, March 31, 2024.

Members of the jury, I understand you have a verdict in the case of Slide Away Fest Los Angeles on this 30th day of March, 2024. As we have outlined, said festival at the Belasco showcased bands in the broad categories of shoegaze, shoegaze-revival, and variations of reverb-soaked guitar alt-rock thereof, with elements of hardcore. These bands convened with assistance from Philadelphia group Nothing, the headliner, who thereby presented 2014 debut Guilty of Everything in a live setting for its 10th anniversary.

Each verdict is prefaced with a statement from a member of the jury, followed by evaluation of the defendant’s shoegaze performance on the certified My Bloody Valentine scale from Geek! (not-quite-shoegaze) to Loveless (universally esteemed, ideal representation of shoegaze). I will now read the verdicts as they will appear in permanent records of the Central District Judicial Court, State of California, County of Los Angeles. Shoegaze fans, Plaintiff, versus Nothing and six openers, Defendants.


Mo Dotti, L.A.

Your Honor, these songs featured effects-laden guitar choruses and distortion crystallized like rock sugar icing the hull of a shuttle to Mars. I genuinely couldn’t discern whether one song was actually an MBV B-side cover.

Rating: 2 Tremolos / Loveless

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of Faithful Adherence to 1990s Dream Pop Expectations.


Peel Dream Magazine, L.A.

If you’re feeling sinister, Your Honor, take this twee burger’s digestible bites with a side of emperor tomato ketchup. Imagine a tanker truck full of rainbow dye running over Brian Wilson and his harmonizing girlfriend mid-song.

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of Distilling Baroque Shoegaze to Its Most Basic Form.

Rating: 3 Ecstasy and Wines / Loveless


astrobrite, Chicago

Scott Cortez has been noisepopping for 30 years, Your Honor. He has transcended human faculties for understanding rock song structure. Before that last chaotic rhythm tangent, I couldn’t tell if I was hearing vocals or guitar—is this how an anxiety-crippled alien race would communicate?

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of Disturbing the Peaceful Lull of Shoegaze with Unpredictability.

Rating: 1 Isn’t Anything / Loveless


Glare, Rio Grande Valley

Your Honor, shoegaze never sounds this down-tuned. These Cocteau twinsies found a way to splice genre DNA with nu-metal while avoiding the dated trappings of nu-gaze. Props!

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of Stage Banter into a Distorted Mic so the Audience Can’t Hear the Joke.

Rating: 2 You Made Me Realises / Loveless


Film School, L.A., San Francisco

Unsung genre heroes, Your Honor. These post-punk-gaze stalwarts had Gen Z’s mulleted moshers exclaiming, “Badass! Not what I expected when they walked onstage,” because they present like overly cool parents overburdened by their day jobs.

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of Kicking California’s Ass Since ’98.

Rating: 4.5 mbvs / Loveless


Tanukichan, Oakland

Your Honor, this band braved crooked rain, crooked rain tonight to bring you detuned slacker-indie that was decidedly gaze- and shoeless. But they titillated darkwaver Angelenos with a gorgeous synthless rendition of New Order, building a strong defense for their bizarre love triangle with shoegaze and Nothing.

We, the Jury, find the defendant Not Guilty of Presenting Guilt as a Useless Emotion.

Rating: 1 Geek! / Loveless


Nothing, Philadelphia

Your Honor, hasn’t Nothing suffered enough? They disclosed that they hate playing full-album shows, but tonight’s legendary run-through made me assume that’s just humility. The opening track rumbled over apt footage of Falconetti’s horror as clerics force Joan’s confession, drenched in the silver-screen palette shared by Nothing’s decade-later reissue. “Get Well” ironically pummeled crust-punk crowd-surfers into injury. After a carousel of guest musicians from the band’s past, and a reflective speech from ringleader Domenic Palermo, Nothing obliterated any shred of innocence with the only-twice-played-live title track and departed to 10 minutes of psychosis-inducing metal machine music.

We, the Jury, find the defendant Guilty of infinite counts of Everything.

Rating: 10/10 Guilty of Everythings (It’s classic, no Loveless needed.)


Photo of Nothing by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

A. J. Urquidi is the copydesk chief of Los Angeles Review of Books and co–executive editor of indicia.


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!