On October 9, Cloud Nothings played in a venue intimate in more ways than one. Nestled in next to a strip club, the Lost Horizon features a wraparound bar that takes up most of the foot space inside. What you are left with is a small dimly lit seating area, a slightly elevated stage, a pit mere feet from the stage, and a raised area just behind that.
Cloud Nothings was full of energy, touring in support of their fourth album Here and Nowhere Else which the band released this past April. While their older stuff is pop and singer-songwriter-ish, they have lately been working more and more punk sensibilities into their music and act. They opened with “Stay Useless,” a nice upbeat song from the third album, Attack on Memory, to set the tune. Audience members could be seen streaming into the pit, and it was packed by the end of the song.
Steadily ramping up the intensity, Cloud Nothings moved onto such fare as “Psychic Trauma” from Here and Nowhere Else. Typical of their recent style, “Psychic Trauma” features a catchy bass line, manic spells, and controlled screams from front man Dylan Baldi. During certain parts of the song, the drumming got to be so intense that flecks of drumstick were flying across the stage. The audience was eating it up.
It is probably impossible to repeatedly outdo the previous song for energy, and Cloud Nothings were wise not to try. After a rendition of “Fall In,” Cloud Nothings broke it down into a head nodding instrumentals period, then broke it down further into an extended feedback session; all as if to retool. Though losing the audience somewhat during the feedback session, Cloud Nothings succeeded in slowing it down. They then played the slower, gritty “Cut You” and were back on good terms with the audience.
It was not long before the audience was bumping and moving again, this time to “No Thoughts.” Off of Here and Nowhere Else, this is Cloud Nothings at their most punk in terms of sound. As for the lyrics, well, “I don’t even talk about it.” Audience members could be heard singing along to the band’s next song, “I’m Not Part of Me.” This catchy, rebellious song is just aching to be played in the nearest teenager’s bedroom after a spat with parents.
The band paused as Baldi told the audience the next song will be their last. It was Cloud Nothings’ only real interaction with the audience — understandable, as they are in the middle of a long countrywide tour. The last song he was talking about was an elongated version of “Wasted Days” — an already nine minute song off of Attack on Memory. Passion, energy, and more drumstick flecks were on display as the Cloud Nothings played for over ten minutes with the audience subsequently losing whatever composure it had left. Unarguably the best song in their library to choose to end a concert with.
Noticeably absent from Cloud Nothings’ set was much of their first album, Turning On, including their hit “Hey Cool Kid”. This album, recorded when the band was still only Baldi, was characterized by more of a pop and singer-songwriter vibe, so it makes sense that they want to emphasize their more recent sound. It made for a more unified pop-punk show.