While some artists remained inactive during lockdown, Cloud Nothings couldn't stop creating. Frontman Dylan Baldi and drummer Jayson Gerycz recorded three albums in quarantine last year, followed by a proper studio album The Shadow I Remember back in February (their second with producer Steve Albini). Many of these new songs made their NYC debuts at Elsewhere in Brooklyn on Saturday night (8/28), along with tons of fan favorites.
The band's setlist leaned most heavily on material from The Shadow I Remember, while also maintaining a good balance of tracks from their last few records, stretching all the way back to 2012's Attack On Memory. The Cleveland four-piece tore through songs like "Modern Act," "Pattern Walks," and "So Right, So Clean" with minimal banter, as mosh pits instantly formed near the front of the crowd, along with many fists punching the air throughout the night. Newer tracks like "The Mess is Permanent" and "Oslo" received just as much fanfare and energy from the audience as the older stuff did, showcasing the band's continued ability to craft punk-influenced indie jams that are just as catchy as they are abrasive.
Despite spending over a year away from the stage, the band as a unit still sounded sharper than ever. Jayson Gerycz's drumming remains a highlight of their live presence, as his lightning-fast fills proved to be the backbone of the band's noisier passages, as well as more hard-hitting tracks like "Only Light" and "The Room It Was." Bassist TJ Duke rounds out the rhythm section, as his musicianship shines throughout more bass-driven songs like "Pattern Walks"; and guitarist Chris Brown's lead guitar lines wonderfully complements Dylan Baldi's fiery riffage, with the pair later alternating vocals during the earworm chorus of "Nothing Without You."
Similar to many of the band's past shows, the final song of the night was the epic "Wasted Days," which involved Tashi Dorji of openers Manas joining them on guitar, resulting in a powerful three-guitar attack. This addition resulted in the already-chaotic song becoming even more cacophonous, with walls of distortion and noise washing over the audience, some of whom desperately plugged their ears. The band played no encore, but their passionate, no-filler main set made it hard not to feel satisfied once the final rings of feedback faded away.
Before Cloud Nothings took the stage, the show was opened by the aforementioned Manas, the North Carolina-based experimental/noise act of Thom Nguyen and Tashi Dorji. Joined by three other members onstage (including Cloud Nothings' own Dylan Baldi on saxophone), the full band descended into tasteful chaos, as guitars, drums, trumpet and saxophone all collided into wild, unbridled musical territory. The project's emphasis on improvisation and volume made them a perfect setup for Cloud Nothings' own moments of loud, ear-splitting noise.
Cloud Nothings wrapped up the current leg of their US tour in Boston last night (8/29), and things resume in October, with shows in Austin, Los Angeles, Denver, Cleveland, and more. They'll also appear at Atlanta's Shaky Knees Festival in October. You can view fan-shot videos and photos from the Elsewhere show below.