Cloud Nothings fourth album Here and Nowhere Else is a barn-burner. This band, with Dylan Baldi on guitar and vocals, TJ Duke on bass and Jayson Gerycz behind the drums, has been moving up in the music scene quickly, having started out as a quieter indie rock outfit in 2009 but now unleashing their energy via frantic noise-rock, verging on punk. I decided to see the band perform in Connecticut rather than either of their New York City shows because this one, put on by Manic Productions the go-to guy for music, was all-ages and at The Space in Hamden, a basement-like venue that can be pretty dark and since CT has had a burgeoning local punk scene. New Yorkers may crowd surf at Death By Audio but I can’t imagine they would at Bowery Ballroom or Music Hall of Williamsburg. The Space was the place to watch people give themselves whiplash.
First up was the folksy Ryley Walker though, with two backing musicians, who was performing songs from his just released debut album All Kinds if You (Tompkins Square). The 24-year old guitarist was pleasing to watch and the instrumental beds the guys laid down were gorgeous enough that the songs almost didn’t need lyrics. When Walker introduced the song, “Primrose Green”, I thought of a similarly-named Hunger Games character, but he explained the tune was named after a booze-concoction he used to drink before advising the mostly under-age audience against drinking. I’d like to give him another listen and if you are catching Cloud Nothings on this tour, be sure to arrive early and see Walker. Before he stepped off, Walker expressed his excitement for watching Cloud Nothings head-splitting set night after night.
When Baldi, Duke and Gerycz stepped up on the low-rise stage, the audience cheered. As they got ready, they had to go through a quick round of sound-checking, and it started with the kick-drum. Instantly I learned Gerycz is a monster hitter, the drum reverberating in my head (I was standing next to the stage for pictures and thankfully I was wearing ear plugs as were some of the youngsters beside me). But that isn’t to say the other members don’t equally hammer their instruments. Just a couple of songs in, Baldi broke some strings on his guitar and paused the set to get it fixed up. Duke’s bass lines ripped through the front and rumbled the back just as strongly.
Cloud Nothings’ set was ferocious, and water bottles were bought en masse during their set. The Space is cozy and gets really warm when bodies start flying. During the first few songs the lights were bright (allowing for good photos) but when they went down, the crowd’s excitement grew. The band played practically the entirety of Here and Nowhere Else (released April 1) as well as some of the rowdy Attack on Memory (given the disparity between styles on the first two albums and the last two, the band no longer performs the earlier material). The chorus of “Fall In” allowed a momentary breathe of air before the instruments sprinted off. Baldi saved the best for last when he busted out “I’m Not Part of Me”, the first single from the new album, and the audience just savored the musical beat down. The whirl of excitement for Cloud Nothings was unrelenting and inescapable, like a dog fervently trying to grasp its own tail.