photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher
Cloud Nothings @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - 4/13/14
Cloud Nothings brought their tour with Ryley Walker in support of this year's fantastic Here and Nowhere Else to Music Hall of Williamsburg last night (4/13) for their first of two sold-out NYC shows. Pictures of the MHOW show are in this post.
Accompanied by an electric guitarist and a keyboardist, the highly skilled acoustic guitarist Ryley Walker kicked off the show. His complex fretwork and fingerpicking patterns are indebted to the psychedelic folk and raga rock of '60s/'70s artists like Mark Fry and John Renbourn, and his voice echoes that era too. His style also brings to mind acoustic virtuosos like Michael Hedges, but the songs themselves are strong enough that it didn't come off like a schtick. And despite playing the kind of psychedelia you could really zone out to, Ryley snapped you out of it after each song with his loud, very funny stage banter. Definitely a memorable opening set.
Cloud Nothings came on around 10 PM for an hour-plus set that included almost the entirety of their last two albums, Here and Nowhere Else and Attack on Memory. This was my first time seeing them with their new power trio setup, and though guitarist Joe Boyer was always a key element of their sound, to say they still pull it off as a three-piece would be an understatement. It's no secret that drummer Jayson Gerycz is the driving force behind the band (and just one of the best rock drummers out there right now), but with each musician needing to occupy a bit more space than in a four-piece lineup, really everyone shined. The new record is the closest they've come to straightforward punk, but Dylan Baldi rarely plays like a straightforward punk guitarist. He's instead playing like both a rhythm and lead guitarist at once. Bassist TJ Duke also filled much of that rhythm guitar void himself with driving, downpicked basslines that were about as classic as punk basslines get (and in a very good way).
The new and old material blended together really well -- the highlight for me was probably "Separation" from Attack on Memory, but I never felt myself wishing for a particular song or feeling like anything was out of place. The closest thing to a "Wasted Days"-style noise jam on the new album is "Pattern Walks" (both of which were played), but this time around those noise/dissonance parts are carefully worked into most of the songs in between verses and choruses. Sure, Cloud Nothings are a rowdy, anthemic band and they give the moshers up front plenty to yell along to, but their avant-leanings are becoming more and more pronounced. The ending of "Pattern Walks" or the dark middle section of "Just See Fear" were as integral moments to their set as the "I miss you 'cause I like damage" refrain of "Cut You." Great show all around, if I had to complain it'd be only be that I wished it was longer.
Cloud Nothings and Ryley Walker do it again at Bowery Ballroom tonight (4/14), which is also sold out. More pictures from MHOW below...