Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cleveland rockers Cloud Nothings conjure a storm at The End

Cloud Nothings mastermind Dylan Baldi had
a few things to get off his chest.
Rock music is meant to be raw, dirty and real. When played the way it's supposed to, it will put you in the type of frenzy to eviscerate everything in your living room. And Tuesday night at The End, the Cloud Nothings proved you don't have to limit yourself to three chords to do it.

The indie punk rockers from Cleveland never lacked for energy as they tore through the eight tracks on their latest LP, Attack on Memory. The album has won acclaim thanks to Dylan Baldi's icy take on indie rock, but the live show brings out a much richer, heavier and deeper sound. Simply put, this is big boy, balls to the wall, perspiration soaked hard rock that grabs your throat and never lets go.

The set kicked off with the excellent "Stay Useless," a leering and cynical piece musing on the futility of life. The band is going nuts, and the moshing is already kicking into high gear. Unfortunately, there were some technical issues.

Baldi's microphone decided to go on strike after the first verse of "Fall In." So we were treated to a mostly instrumental version of the song. After that they jammed out for a little bit and then went into the instrumental "Separation" while the techie was (presumably) working out the bugs.

The highlight of the night was "Wasted Days," which presents an oppressive aggro-rock attitude that eventually gives way to an extended post-punk instrumental jam section. If you enjoyed this song on the record you'll love it even more live, as the intensity the Cloud Nothings brings is truly off the charts.  The drum work is nuts. Jayson Gerycz goes berserk on his kit, as he maintains a blistering beat on the snare while hitting the hi-hat, crash cymbal, and floor tom with his off hand without breaking rhythm.

Anna Fox Rochinski brings 60s shoegaze to life with passionate harmonies.

Other highlights included the bouncing, brooding "Cut You," and the dizzying snare and hi-hat beat on "Our Plans." The eerily atmospheric "No Future, No Past" served as the set closer, which turned into an energetic crowd shoutalong on the final chorus.

Beforehand though, there was a varied patchwork of opening bands.

Quilt kicked off the evening, opening with a bit of 60s inspired surf rock with some trippy keyboards and an emphasis on vocal harmonies. The keyboard is the standout element for me; once Anna Fox Rochinsk ditches it for the guitar, they began to lose their distinctive edge.
TJ Duke brings Cloud Nothings'  propulsive rhythms to life.

Playing directly before Cloud Nothings was A Classic Education. Singer Jonathan Clancy possessed great stage presence, but his band specialized in the light, breezy type of indie rock I've heard far too many times.

My favorite opening band was The Big Sleep,
a Brooklyn trio best known for their post-rock work. We didn't see much of that from them, however, as they instead opted to unleash a hard edged, driving rock sound.

It was sometimes dark and moody, sometimes avant-garde, but always in your face and aggressive. Sonya Balchandani's hypnotic vocals inject an air of mystery into the music, and "Four Wishes" contains as good 
of a riff as I've heard played in this building. 

If you like your music delivered with a steely edge, Cloud Nothings and The Big Sleep were money. If you prefer sounds that gently wash over you, Quilt and A Classic Education likely brought a smile to your face. No matter your preference, there was no way to lose on this night.

The Big Sleep's quick wristed axeman Danny Barria crafts dark melodies.

1 comment:

Thoroughbred said...

Cool blog man, sorry it took so long for me to hit you back. I just relaunched and renamed the site Thoroughbred. Good stuff you're churning out, I'm a huge fan of this year's Cloud Nothings album btw. Good luck, keep it up.