On Friday afternoon under a tent erected across the street from a ginormous strawberry shortcake Cleveland dystopian rock trio Cloud Nothings inspired one of the most delicious ironies I’ve witnessed in New York City. The small band of NYU students gathered in front of the impromptu stage – god bless ‘em and their overpriced educations – shouted along with Dylan Baldi lines like “I thought I would be more than this” and “No future, no past” with the gusto of true believers during the band’s Strawberry Festival headlining gig. I mean, if they identify this strong with Baldi’s words at 20 or 21, good luck when they find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the job market, while tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
But for one afternoon everything was cakey, noisey and sublime.
Except for the passer-by on West 3rd Street and Laguardia who stumbled upon a real live rock show, and rushed to cover their ears. Others like the gray-haired man eating a salad, while standing mere feet from drummer Jayson Gerycz and bassist TJ Duke, gazed upon the proceedings like they had wandered upon a crime scene. A sprinter van parked next to the stage housed the band’s sound man and soundboard. It was a small wonder there weren’t more sound problems than difficulty, at times, hearing Baldi’s vocals above the cacophonous fray.
Primal and ferocious, the three men in Cloud Nothings roared through 13 songs from their albums, Here and Nowhere Else and Attack on Memory, in under an hour. They acknowledged the crowd with thank you’s and precious little else. They just melted faces, starting with “Stay Useless” and wrapping with “Wasted Days”, during which a kid in a D.A.R.E. T-shirt pinballed in the mosh circle in front the stage. In between, they delivered a grimy, heavy as fuck version of “Psychic Trauma”, incited a tutti frutti-colored lady punk to throw her body into the nerdy boys on “Fall In” and showcased Gerycz’s lightning hands on the chorus of “Cut You”. Seconds after the band concluded the eight-minute epic “Wasted Days” the drummer started breaking down his kit.
Like college, Cloud Nothings were gone almost before they began.