I slept past my alarm on the morning of Monday July 23rd. The reason for this was because my phone had been stolen the Friday before and I was not used to the ridiculously low murmur that is the alarm on my newly purchased device. There really is nothing like sleeping through your alarm on a work morning to really put the fear of God into you and a fire under your bum as you tear through the house like a tornado in the panic filled minutes that follow.
So far Monday was turning out to be a bit of a bitch. The only thing that I could console myself with was that I was going to see Ohio based indie rock quartet Cloud Nothings, supported by Vancouverite punk band White Lung that very evening. Music, my friends, makes everything better.
The location – The Biltmore Cabaret; a venue that will forever have a special place in my heart as a result of epic shows that have been held there and frequented by yours truly in times past. It would be my first time experiencing the music of White Lung and I was only vaguely familiar with Cloud Nothings.
The moment I arrived at the Biltmore I realised I was a solid hour too early. There was no line whatsoever and as I entered the building, once my eyes had adjusted accordingly to my dimly lit surroundings, I could see that there were a mere handful of people there. I had assumed the first band would begin around 9, but was informed that they would actually begin at 9.45pm. No matter, I was here and I could relax and people-watch for a while. (Not in that creepy, potential stalker kind of a way, I swear.)
At approximately 10.18pm the adequately sized, impatient crowd and I were introduced to White Lung. As the curtains parted, so too did my lips as my jaw hit the floor. I don’t know what I had expected exactly, but what I saw and heard before me I had not anticipated. Three ladies and a gentleman of the “lets thrash this track out” kind appeared before me on the stage. The lead singer, a Courtney Love lookalike, literally began to kick and scream her way through the first song. A hot female bass guitarist did her thing to the singer’s right as did a scruffy unshaven handsome fella to her left, also in possession of a guitar. The bespectacled female drummer who had a “Sexy Librarian/ Scooby Doo-accompanying detective” look about her, let all hell break loose on her drum kit behind the aforementioned trio.
A handful of fans at the front of the stage head banged and moshed their way through the 20 minute set that ensued, a set which consisted of pure, raw noise where the goal was, in my opinion – to shock and awe those in attendance. The set was interrupted intermittently by lead singer Mish Way as she chatted briefly with the audience. I have to admit, despite the fact that she seemed quite lovely, thanking the crowd for coming out to see them on a week night – “Don’t you guys have work in the morning?”, bestowing praise upon guitarist Kenneth William -“Isn’t he just great?” and letting us know that we were in for a real treat with Cloud Nothings’ forthcoming performance, Miss Mish seemed completely disorientated throughout her stint onstage. Her speech was slurred and on a few occasions she would trail off leaving sentences unfinished. At one point I glimpsed bass guitarist Grady MacIntosh shoot Way a warning glance as they made eye contact before launching into another song. Despite the brevity and odd behavior, I cannot fault the talent. Mish’s vocal style is vehemently venomous to the band’s advantage, and the band as a whole executed each song to punk rock perfection.
I would compare the experience of seeing White Lung perform at the Biltmore, to having the most rushed furious sex of your life. A session between the sheets that is intense and passion fueled but where, for one party involved, it reaches its end too soon, leaving them breathless, unsettled and thoroughly unsatisfied.
As I stood there in the darkness that followed with other members of the audience who seemed just as dazed and confused as I was, I collected my thoughts and decided that maybe the band was just having a bad case of the Monday Blues as well…?
Just before 11.00pm, the thick black heavy curtains parted once more to reveal four young men and their respective instruments. A sense of awesome, music fueled bliss was restored once more within me as Cloud Nothings launched into their song “Fall in”, a song that most definitely befitted their performance opener. Being one of their only songs that I was familiar with, I sang energetically along at the top of my lungs, carelessly moving along to the music in my usual ridiculous fashion with camera phone in one hand, pen and notepad clasped firmly in the other.
Despite the fact that 70% of the audience were surprisingly beginning to flat line at this stage, Cloud Nothings’ tore through their performance with ferocious passion and energy. They concentrated their efforts on promoting their third album Attack on Memory, which after being released in January of this year, was stated by Pitchfork.com as being one of the “Best New Music” contributions of 2012, a more than deserved accolade in my opinion.
As they ticked track after track from Attack on Memory off their set-list, including Our Plans, Stay Useless and my personal favorite thus far – Cut You, I fell more and more in love with this band which started out as lead singer Dylan’s solo project. I was reminded vaguely at times of Dire Straights during guitar blasts by Joe Boyer and TJ Duke before Dylan, a young Rivers Cuomo, contributed his gritty lead vocals to their flawless efforts. I was certain that drummer Jayson Gerycz was going to make absolute sh*t of his drum set as he thrashed along to each song wholeheartedly. By the end of what can only be described as an absolutely stunning performance, all four members of Cloud Nothings were clearly exhausted, drenched in sweat and drained from the utterly outstanding show they had just put on.
When I got home, despite the late hour and the fact that I had to be awake less than six hours later for work, I purchased Attack on Memory from iTunes and loaded it onto my new cellular device, setting 5th track – the instrumental ballad Separation, as my new alarm tone. You can rest assured dear readers that I did not, and will not be sleeping through my alarm again anytime soon.
Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory is now available to purchase from iTunes