Cloud Nothings Give Teens Their First Case of Tinnitus at All-Ages Show in Seattle
Cloud Nothings played an especially beautiful show at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle last night (May 14) -- not because they were loud and locked in, though they were, but because it was a rare all-ages rock show, and packed to the gills with moshing underagers feeding off the band's grimy sound.
Though we were so, so bummed to miss the opening set by local act Chastity Belt -- clean, swimmy guitars a la Mac Demarco, plus Julie Shapiro's Supertramp-y lead vocals -- we were blessed to catch most of TacocaT, another Seattle band, playing bouncy garage rock with breathless, giddy melodies. I was in love with the whole band but suspect it was the drummer's glinting golden earrings, wild grin and slumber party get-up that finally cast the spell.
There was a positive mood in the air before Cloud Nothings moved into their set -- as a relative fogey, I was uplifted by an intermission speech from the local youth arts non-profit that put on the show about getting more impressionable youths out to shows. Cloud Nothings were powerful from the start, but they didn't rush into it -- their ferocity was derived from drummer Jayson Gerycz's particularly manic skin smashing and the deep growl of singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi's boat-sized Gibson semi-hollow. Everything -- even, unfortunately, Baldi's delicately screamed choruses -- was obscured by the roar. The kids went into a frenzy, pounding on each other's heads and jumping off the stage.
What energy the band lacks in its physical movements -- besides Gerycz's absolutely wild drumming, there wasn't a whole lot of action on the stage -- the rockers make up for in firecracker dynamics changes, switching on a dime from amp-frying noise to Springsteenian refrain, and the caustic swirl of guitar and bass. (While it might ruin their three-piece aesthetic, I do hope they consider touring with another guitar player in the future -- some of Baldi's intricate guitar parts, which drive songs like "Wasted Days," were missed.)
The final run of songs were also the three best tunes in the band's catalog. "No Future/No Past," the leadoff to the band's 2012 breakthrough Attack on Memory, was slower than the recording, a restraint that built eventually to Baldi's most paralyzing screams, as he repeated "No future, no past" -- an anti-rallying cry of pure negation over guitars pushed to their breaking point. "I'm Not Part of Me" brought the focus back to Baldi's melodies, as bracing as Kurt Cobain's best, but screamed straight from the inside of a broken heart, more Sunny Day Real Estate than Nirvana (we are in Seattle, remember).
"Wasted Days" was the band's final, finest show of strength, a disciplined descent into waves of noise that felt like the crush of dejection, peppered with violence, that Baldi expertly steered back to the band's central chant of dissatisfaction: "I thought / I would / Be more / Than this." It was a dispairing, destructive note to end on, especially after the lashings of guitar feedback and battery of drums, but, intentionally or not, it was also affirmingly noisy, like sitting in the back of the minivan with your ears ringing on your way home from your first show.
Check out some Instagram shots from the show, and grab Cloud Nothings' full tour itinerary here.