During Cloud Nothings’ second song Saturday night, the bottom string on Joe Boyer’s electric guitar popped. Once the song, “Fall In”, concluded, Boyer crouched to reattach the string while band singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi noodled the silence away. A few minutes later, Boyer stood up, his instrument repaired, and apologized for the delay.
Boyer’s timeout for equipment repair was the only time Cloud Nothings came up for air during its blistering set Saturday night at Bunk Bar in Portland. Rarely have I seen a band assault its instruments the way the Cleveland-based four-piece did. Perhaps The Drew Carey Show was onto something when it declared “Cleveland Rocks!”
Cloud Nothings pummeled its way through its excellent, eight-song 2012 LP, Attack on Memory, and nothing else. That’s correct. They played eight songs. Some audience members called for an encore, but the band started packing its gear as soon as the show ended. Normally, I would have been chanting “encore” too. In this case, my face was frozen in a smile and my ears were ringing.
The show’s highlight was their face-melting performance of “Wasted Days”, a song I previously declared my love for on this site.
I resisted yelling out the song’s chorus “I thought I would be more than this” the first two go-rounds. After several minutes of having my ass kicked by the song’s swirling, brutal, tornado-like instrumental center – and the intensity in which drummer Jayson Gercyz, bassist TJ Duke, Boyer and Baldi conveyed during said instrumental – I gave up trying to be cool. When Baldi stepped back to the microphone, I shouted along with him as he repeated the chorus till the song’s close.
At first listen to Cloud Nothings I had a problem with Baldi’s bratty drawl. Now I am captivated by it. His voice was audible on some songs Saturday night. On others, the instruments drowned him out. The vocal muddiness did nothing to subtract from the show. The emphasis was on instrumental muscle and energy.
What struck me about Cloud Nothings’ band members was how committed they were to their performance. There was no bullshit. Just focus. Extreme focus. And massive, rumbling walls of sound.
The band finished with “No Future/No Past”, an intense, brooding rocker that builds until it explodes, with Baldi’s cathartic shouts of the song’s title. It was a staggering, gut-punch of a closer.
If Saturday’s show was any indication, Cloud Nothings have one hell of a noisy and awesome future ahead.