Hailing from the gritty underground music scene of Columbus, Ohio, post-punk band Nervosas is one of the city’s not-so-best-kept secrets. While it helps that each member has individually made a name for themselves as fixtures in their local DIY circuit, it’s the noise they make together that has perked up ears well outside of the state capital.
The three-piece, comprised of Mickey Mocnik (guitar, vocals), Jeff Kleinman (bass, vocals), and Nick Schuld (drums), is consistently praised for their energetic performances and tight musicality, garnering themselves a preceding reputation of being one of Columbus’ most important bands and one to watch, in general.
As a result, expectations were running high when the group stopped by the Railway Club in Vancouver on July 2.
Under the cool glow of icy blue stage lights, Nervosas dove into their set with vehemence, opening with “Moral Panic,” a feverish cut off their upcoming self-titled sophomore album. The release (due out July 10 on Dirtnap Records) made for the bulk of the show and, for playing a record that’s set on warp-speed from start to finish, Nervosas’ energy didn’t once falter nor did they allow themselves to come up for air.
With explosive riffs, gloomy turns, and melodic undercurrents, Nervosas sounded like what would remain of The Clash if they went for a ride with Joy Division by way of Mission of Burma. Their musical arrangements, though wild and riotous, were sharp and clean, and their vocals, though raw and aggressive, were discerning and contemplative.
Kleinman furrowed his brow as his voice boomed out dramatically on “Refinery” and “Night Room,” taking a step back from the microphone to let his moody basslines speak for themselves. Mocnik also leaned into her instrument, lunging widely and thrashing her jet-black hair while she wailed furiously on her guitar. Her harmonies added light to the darkness, particularly so on “Parallels,” which saw her howl sweetly through the thrash. All was held together by the relentless and dexterous skin-pounding of Schuld, whose kit was stationed right up front and centre in between his bandmates.
The position of Schuld’s drums not only showcased his skill, but also nodded to the dynamic that exists among Nervosas. Mocnik, Kleinman, and Schuld are powerhouses in their own rights, but it’s the clear respect for each other’s talent, along with their complete lack of pretension, which creates ease about them that reflects in the quality of their performance and that is so enjoyable to watch.
Finishing on the blistering note of “Mutation Ritual” wasn’t enough for the cheering crowd who demanded a second encore (“the second encore given on the tour,” Kleinman grinned). Nervosas obliged with a rendition of “Junky,” off 2011’s Ardentes, concluding the night as madly as it began and capping a show that catapulted itself beyond the expectations that were laid before it.
Honourable mention must be given to the openers who gave the night a running start with impressive sets that displayed the chops of Vancouver’s own local music scene: the scrappy and sweet Spring Breaks; Obscene Being, who brought eye-bulging insanity, drenched in sweat and charisma; and Grease Thieves, with quick spurts of heavy, hearty punk layered with melody.
Nervosa’s self-titled LP is out July 10 on Dirtnap Records.