Energetic, potent set slightly marred by confusing opener pairing
It’s been a few years since we’ve crossed paths with Dylan Baldi and his chaotic music assemblage, Cloud Nothings, but their recorded output has confirmed that they have been taking some excellent time to polish and tighten up their sound. While absent of gigantic, sprawling bruisers like “Wasted Days” (the 8-minute magnum opus from Attack On Memory), their new record Life Without Sound continues to sport excellent 90s grunge/alternative staples along with a modern sense of punkish attitudes and new-school production, and the resultant collection of songs is delightful to listen to. Their Noise Pop show was one of the more popular gigs — badge-toting friends of mine claimed they couldn’t make it into the sold-out show even before the openers had finished — but while the Cleveland foursome brought the noise and the bouncy response to the show, it was at the end of a strange rollercoaster of genres that, if nothing else, made the audience even more hungry for the headliners to appear.
While it’s important to not spew out all of your bands’ power within the first 30 minutes of a show, it’s difficult to warm up for a night of moshing, dancing and smashing-about when listening to bands playing slow surfer-psychedelia; nevertheless, this was the brand of tunes that Kid Trails brought with them, and it was a strange beginning to the night. The band seemed very pleased to be onstage, but the response from the crowd was lukewarm and tentative; all of the signs appeared to be there for a sudden explosion of energy, but never came, so the applause lessened with each passing number. Third act Itasca received a similar response; while apparently well known (at least within Noise Pop), their brand of pop-country ballads and groovy melodies were as somniferous as they were soothing. With the explosive, mathy post-punk of Never Young shoving their way between the two acts — the first sign, that evening, that a wild night was in store for us after all — the adjoining acts added a strange lull to the otherwise vibrant energy of the night.
With three bands before them, Cloud Nothings definitely had to amp up the firepower for their set, and did so in spades. Delivering such a furious set definitely kept Baldi and his constituents in small circles of movement for the duration of their night, but their devotion to their craft was evident in the lightning-fast performances that took them through the set at a breakneck pace. A few works were exchanged with the crowd, but the group was primarily focused on generating colossal walls of sound between songs, climbing higher and higher on VU meters and guitar necks alike before hurtling downwards into a dynamite blast to kick each piece off. Drummer Jayson Gerycz was one of the most entertaining members to watch; despite the increasingly-faster speeds that Baldi would crank up each song to, Gerycz matched him effortlessly, looking utterly amused while pounding at a dizzying pace.
After racing through their set and drawing the crowd into frenetic circles of movement, Cloud Nothings brought the night to a close with one final rollercoaster, with the slow, plodding dirge of “Realize My Fate” segueing into their encore — a 15-minute performance of “Wasted Days” that carried them from extreme to extreme, flinging back and forth from fast to slow, from melody to feedback, and barely containing the massive song within the timespan; the performance was a wild beast battling its trainers, the band members pulling and prodding it and coaxing it into a wild frenzy before bringing it back down again and again. While such an occasion would normally call for Who-style total demolition of the instruments onstage, it was all the more impressive that the men of Cloud Nothings continued to eschew the need to physically lose such control — the chaos, the insanity, the fervent energy was all omnipresent, held at bay with impeccable talent.
The show demonstrated that the marvelous energy of Cloud Nothings has absolutely remained, even in the face of more mature songwriting and tighter collaboration between the musicials. On the flipside, however, the collection of openers was definitely strange — though we’d be more than happy to see Never Young make another appearance with the Cleveland collective. If a wild night of aggressive, melodic slamdancing is what appeals to you, catch these two acts — but possibly on another tour, if they’re keeping their crooners with them on this trip.
- Sight Unseen
- Modern Act
- Psychic Trauma
- Darkened Rings
- Enter Entirely
- I’m Not Part of Me
- Things Are Right With You
- Strange Year
- Pattern Walks
- Internal World
- Fall In
- Realize My Fate
- Wasted Days
Additional photos from the show below. All photos are © 2017 Jonathan Pirro.