Don’t Hold out For the Classics: Cloud Nothings Live at the Rickshaw Theatre

CloudNothings_PhotoBy_PoonehGhana_1In the five years Cloud Nothings have been pumping out music, lead singer and songwriter – and for a while the band’s only member (he played all the instruments and then mixed them together) – Dylan Baldi has released four albums, toured extensively in North America and Europe, and also managed to pack the Rickshaw Theatre last Saturday night.

The buzz-fed, hard-hitting, noisy melodies of Baldi and co. certainly made up for his lack of banter – he said not one word to the audience all night. And whilst it’s always good to be entertained by a witty story or two, the band having opened opening with “Quieter Today” meant no introductions were needed. The trio quickly transitioned into “Now Hear In”, the opening track from their fourth and newly released album, Here and Nowhere Else, and continued straight into “Stay Useless” without losing a single drop of energy.

For a man with four albums up his sleeve, Baldi chose only to play tracks from 2012’s Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else. As the majority of the tracks on Cloud Nothings’ 2011 self-titled album runs in the two-minute range, it couldn’t have been time that stopped him from playing such numbers. It’s a real shame he’s obviously bored (or ashamed) of his earlier recordings, because the anticipation for the band to play some earlier hits ran through the crowd – or at least through this humble reviewer.

After the realization that the two-minute lo-fi pop songs of yesteryear – well 2009-11 – weren’t going to be played, the boys discharged “Giving into Seeing” which saw Baldi conduct a scream-fest. With its repetitive one-word chorus (“swallow”) and abrasive riff, the vibrations ricocheting around the theatre are the antithesis of lo-fi.

The band bounced out the poppy sing-along “Fall In” before returning to the distorted buzz of the angst-filled “Pattern Walks”, a song that proves that seven minutes of repeated words and stripped-down chords work well when done properly.

“Cut You” followed with its catchy sing-along ending, “I miss you ’cause I like damage,” and the band finished the set with arguably the best tune on their latest release, the melodically fast-paced “I’m Not Part of Me”.

Cue a short break, and the threesome were back on stage to play a two-song encore, a ten-minute, debauched ruckus of words and sounds. “No Future/No Past” merges into “Wasted Days” fluidly; Baldi repeatedly screams, “I thought I would be more than this,” and although I’m sure he’s pretty bloody pleased with his musical achievements, the heartfelt honesty of his cries and the buzz and reverb from his guitar put Baldi a million miles away from a whiney teenager as well as his lo-fi roots.

I guess I’ll have to wait 20 years before they embark on a “playing their seminal 2011 lo-fi classic Cloud Nothings” tour, but for now I’ll take the noise and the chaos and the screams and repetitive buzz of anxiously laid out riffs that distinguish Cloud Nothings very much at the top of their game.