Review: Cloud Nothings kept indie scene alive in Boston

Although I have only recently stumbled across Ohio indie rockers Cloud Nothings a few months ago in my discover weekly Spotify playlist, their live performance correlates very well with the attitude of indie rock these days and what I expected their sound to be—a DIY scene, the fast-pace shred, as if mixing a tang of The Strokes with a touch of late 70s punk—Cloud Nothings is, and does, forge the very craft of what indie rock today encapsulates itself to be: an alternative to the main stream, an eclectic mix of funk, punk,  and grunge.

It was snowing while I was walking to Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday, the go-to venue for any up-and-coming eclectic groups. I wasn’t expecting a long line but there was, and I couldn’t help but notice that we—the fans of all things indie—were all dressed the same. Perhaps that justifies the relationship of the indie rock community, because we too, reflect the DIY grunge scene in our attire, our (even critical) attitude to rock, our burning cigarettes, our beanies, our leather jackets, our edge.

New York’s LVL Up immediately, perhaps even urgently, jump-started the pace of the night: a pace that made our heads spin and bob. LVL Up, a group where 3 vocalists alternated performing tunes, was very similar to Cloud Nothings in the sense that they were both 4-piece rock bands, both reliant on the drums to drive their sound, their fast and tanged-out speed. Complimented with the electric and bass guitars, the bands represent what indie rock is coining itself to be today while still on par with it’s origins of The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and even to the days of Nirvana, twisting and tuning indie rock’s history to the contemporary present.

Knowing that Cloud Nothings lacks a keyboard in their shreddy-sound, I was still hoping one would appear on stage. Although Cloud Nothings’ sound is more defined and arguably more put-together than LVL UP, the two groups sounded very much the same through the pulsating beat of the drums to make your heart skip a beat, very much putting each band on the same agenda, as if in a race to see who can play the fastest, the loudest. The bands depict the challenge of indie rock these days, the challenge to sound different, to set yourself apart in an alternative world, yet each indie rock band seems to be striving for the same thing.

Nonetheless, Cloud Nothings is a group to look out for. They have been churning out LPs since their first album release Turning On in 2010, and their studio sound parallels to their performance. There were no surprises. Singer and songwriter Dylan Baldi set the lyrical pace in the early half of the show, performing songs off their 2014 LP Here and Nowhere Else including “Now Here In” and a fan favorite, “Pattern Walks” that moved quickly to their 2012 album Attack on Memory. But without drummer Jayson Gerycz, I don’t think the band would be quite as successful.

Gerycz gave his all, and his passion and energy radiated from drums and snare to the energy of the crowd, and almost all of us, were dancing and moving our heads by way of natural response. Gerycz very much set the pace for the entire performance, moving from slow rifts to fast movements in a more articulated an environment, responding to guitarist Chris Browns’ passive moves, enabling Baldi to transcend his voice farther and louder above the crowd.

It wasn’t until the second half of the set when their sound and pace was truly established. The group performed the beloved “Entire Entirely”, “Modern Act” and “Things Are Right With You” off of their latest LP, Life Without Sound. As the pace moved faster and faster, the audience began to lose themselves in their element, and the punk of Cloud Nothings’ sound emulated something true to the bands message, their theme and sound, that really drove the ending of the set and the fire within the group.

Despite the peaceful falling of snow in the city, the noisy nature in the venue brought out a prevailing energy. The nature of performance seeks something of an absolution, something that differentiates and defines one band from another, one audience from another. Yet, we are all the same in the sense that we share and seek a passion for well-produced shred, that acrimonious sound from the drums that relieves anger and life’s anxieties, the obscured vocals and droning distortion, uniting us all based on the passion and sound of grungy rock, the rock that has defined our centuries.

 

Cloud Nothings at Paradise Rock Club, 01.31.17
Written for IndieU.com

obsolete

The highway blurs

and the windows are a shield

as the trees race by

past the front seat

gliding through the gateway into the night.

passing by crumbled leaves near the rusting rail

to blossoming petals in the field

the land is quiet amiss

the banter and pain.

——-

The road has just begun

fueled by the rising spring air

and gravitating earth.

Doors are open

to let in the bygone

facilitating the relics of the present

and trust of the heart.

today in the East mountain

I have never met a man who knew the woods like the back of his hand as well as my father. “See this tree here? I remember riding my bike by it when I was just a lil’ kid,” he said. The woods to my father is what your favorite childhood hub is to you: it is the place where you sat and wondered, where you escaped when you knew you were in a little trouble, and where your gossip from the school yard was told. “You’re crazy dad,” I said, “There’s no way you could remember that exact tree from nearly 40 years ago.”

But it was true. I followed him through the woods and over the exposed February leaves that crackled under my feet and around the fallen trees and obtrusive branches to the trail that curved along the mountain valley that he used when he was a lad. He knows that woods better than the native deer or lingering mountain cat, embarking on every stone and memory that was tied with it.

“And this one dad?” I said jokingly, but he would forever respond with a revised version of tale about his dirt bikes or snowmobile rides that he did with my Uncle; the fond memories he holds close to keep the memory of my Uncle quite alive.

He would climb over the steep ridges and I would stand back, watching him climb over the land that he conquered many years ago. He would point into the valley where our town settled, watching the minis cure colors of cars pass the white and golden houses that reflected the sun many feet below, illuminating their colors to an extravagant color that did not ring true to the tone of the house at all. “There’s our house,” he pointed. I squinted and squirmed and longed to see. “How can you see it? I don’t see it at all.” The words trailed out of my mouth with a sense of urgency that rang true to my scurrying eyes and tip-toeing toes. “I see it.”

My father was glowing. After finding our house (which was quite difficult) and pointing to others down our street, he was ready to take us home. He walked through the trees taking us off of the ‘trail’ and through the slumbering trees, winding down rocky slopes and steep curves. “We are going to get lost,” I said with a chuckle, which I knew wasn’t true at all right after I said it. I somehow trusted him and his ‘forest-sense.’ My dad worked the trails and asked often if I was keeping up (I wasn’t, he is in better shape than I thought) and finally we would hit the willowing trail that was oh so familiar to him. We walked and shared the warmth of the hovering trees and reflecting sunlight, embracing the power and solitude of nature as the church bells sang once more as we left the forest.

———–

When we made it home he would turn and share where we were in the East mountain, describing the moment where he pretended to hide in the slope of the hill to the ridge we overlooked to see the town where the deer scratch. He became one with the forest and only focused on the power of the woods that hugged him, and shared that power with me and the affect it placed upon his soul.

The woods did that to him. His heart was replenished and his mind would quiet. He wouldn’t say much but his content presence mirrored that of the whispering pines and echoing church bells in the valley, as if in sync; hailing high above the land. Letting the earth further shape and enhance the heart and mind as we both swayed around the fallen trees and over the rippling streams, following the trails embellished in earth’s mountains to find our way back home and to ourself.

 

 

 

run on sentences

“i miss the innocence of being a child” she said.

i thought that too, as we walked along the jaded pavement

my eyes flicked down to my half-tied converse, listening to the steps i took down the sleeping road

walking in silence, yet comforted by the presence of thought

remembering the warm times with family

the purity

the times that we sometime hold on to forever

that will bring smiles to our faces when we are distraught with dark times

——

it’s funny though, how different a world can seem

i thought

as the tickling palms whispered to each other that canopied above B and me

“i’m glad to be out of the cold weather” i said

as the dreary gray sky at home hovered my mind

but the sky here flickered and shined

but at the same time

it felt as if the clouds were building into a storm

and i couldn’t stop

wishing for her to be alright

longing for her to find the light

praying for her to fight the fight

loving her till she’s right

because i too

know what it feels like to fight

without flight.

 

written for You

Sometimes I’m really angry about the characteristics humanity withholds. As animals, it is in our biological nature to seek companionship, connection, and love. We are genetically wired to find and obtain connection amongst those we encounter. We grow from these interactions. We learn. We love.

Sometimes these connections sink deep into the heart. Too deep sometimes. We hold on to the little encounters: a smile, a touch of the hand, a kiss on the cheek. We are alive because of connection. It is the center and source of our energy, our hope, our desire.

How can something as delicate as connection be apart of something so fragile? The one thing that binds our hearts together can also tear that bind a part. We are powerless. We mourn in tears. Reminisce and ponder the memories that once made us feel alive. We re-live, re-capture, we cry. We want the connection to last forever. But we can’t grasp the connection. We try to hold on but can’t. It’s only an invisible binding that holds us together. Thriving at the core.

I’m sitting on my bed motionless, powerless. Staring at the ceiling, pondering the memories that will forever remain in the chamber of the mind, hoping they will shed their eternal light into heart, clearing away tears and jaded eyes.

I’m angry that you can’t bring people back. Not for one last good bye and one more favorite meal. For a chance to say ‘thank you’ once more. To say I love you.

But that is what we do. We give life. We live. We form connections. Bind and sever ties. We grow. We fall. We learn. We are human, a delicate creature, biologically wired to live and to master our talents and strengths. To love and to be loved.

It’s who we are. We are the strongest of them all.

In memory of Papa. 5/03/1929 – 11/09/2015