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Friday, April 6, 2012

Concert Review: Cloud Nothings at Grog Shop

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM

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In a few days, Cloud Nothings will be awarded temporary relief from an extensive tour schedule before taking their aggressive brand of indie rock overseas in May.

There were signs of fatigue in Dylan Baldi’s voice, laid barren against the raw backdrop of the entirety of their game-changing Attack on Memory, but last night at the Grog Shop marked Cloud Nothings’ sold-out homecoming show after a remarkable start to the year.

In addition to landing on the charts, Attack on Memory has deservedly garnered accolades from practically everybody. It bears shades of Slint, Silkworm, and Wipers, all the while retaining the youthful exuberance previously demonstrated on Baldi’s slew of releases over the past few years.

With Steve Albini at the helm, the naked intensity of the band's brash sound was fully fleshed out in the studio. Onstage, Baldi and crew shook up the album arrangement, stretching out what was once a 34-minute affair into 40-odd minutes.

Not the biggest leap – these aren’t prog-rock numbers – but, more than anything, their new direction affords them the opportunity to play it loose.

“Wasted Days,” in particular, seemed to grow excess limbs at every possible point, branching outward as if to represent indie rock’s entire tree of life since the dawn of time … or at least since “Youth of America.”

The band that shared the stage with Baldi have been together more than a year now, and you can credit them for expanding what was once a notable bedroom pop act into Cloud Nothings’ bold new world view. It’s an exciting place to be, and they truly exemplify Cleveland’s greatest musical export in 2012.

As a bonus afterthought, they also ripped through a few older tracks to conclude their set. It was a nice touch to hear “Leave You Forever” and other audience requests, but they represent a sound the band aims to leave behind forever. As charming as Baldi’s humble beginnings were, I’m certainly not complaining.

Fellow Cleveland natives Library Time opened the gig, and it was great to see them play for what was already a large, eager audience. Though they hid behind the comfort of reverb a little too much, this young trio already has a lot to offer in the way of indie pop tunefulness.

On the other hand, Cloud Nothings’ Italian tourmates – technically, the singer is from Ottawa originally – A Classic Education offered garage rock that wasn’t altogether gripping. It’s hard to fault them too much, though; much of the disinterest could be attributed to restlessness.

After all, we were all just happy to have Cloud Nothings back, even if only for one night. —Michael Tkach

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