Some people just like to make a lot of noise. Yes, that is easier when you’re angry, and yes, when you write your anger into song then you make it much easier to access, but nevertheless you do not end up in Cloud Nothings without getting your kicks primarily out of making a goddamn old-fashioned racket. Tonight, the Cleveland band bring their touring colossus to Manchester’s ornate Deaf Institute, a venerable, decorated venue that probably shouldn’t have its foundations clattered by such things too regularly.
They arrive on the back of their fourth long player, Life Without Sound, a record that at first glance glories in a safer, cleaner and more accessible approach than their previous efforts. Continued time spent with the album, however, and any time whatsoever spent at their current live shows, reveals that the same primal frenzy defines Dylan Baldi and co. that has always done.
The band are clearly burstingly proud of the new material, with all nine new album tracks getting an outing tonight. Album and show opener ‘Up to the Surface’ sets the pace, with Chris Brown’s razor-wire, million-mile-an-hour solos duelling with the frankly terrifying, octopedal drumming of Jayson Gerycz, while Baldi’s strangulated, throat-shredding vocals channel the aforementioned anger.
They rattle through the new catalogue, with tracks from the second half of the album ringing with greater passion and honesty. ‘Enter Entirely’, ‘Sight Unseen’ and most obviously ‘Modern Act’ all glisten, the latter complete with the night’s most loudly sung chorus amongst the increasingly animated crowd: “I want a life/That’s all I need lately/I am alive/But all alone”. It captures the reason why most have come to see them – to share the personal frustration that comes with attempting to cope with the modern world and to share it as loudly and boldly as one ever does in public.
With that in mind, it might have been warmly received had there been more time devoted to their previous albums, with Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else supplying just four of the night’s 13 numbers. It is not at all unusual for the old familiars to draw the biggest cheers, but it speaks particularly to the strength of ‘Pattern Walks’, ‘Fall In’ and ‘I’m Not Part of Me’ that they cause the most spontaneous outbreaks of crowd circles tonight – the warmth of recognition taking the room temperature tentatively above simmering point.
They return to Life Without Sound to round out the set, with ‘Realize My Fate’ concluding their hour on stage with relative texture and reflection. The night was never filled with extensive story-telling or indeed any conversation on stage at all, but when Baldi announces that they have reached the end of their performance, it causes more than a few to glimpse down at their watches. For a four album career, an hour is short by any measure, but this hour has been shorter than most, and the credit for that is reserved entirely for the band. As expressions of love from audience to performer go, the cheers and applause on their exit are uncommonly pregnant with honesty and emotion – Cloud Nothings make you care.
Photo credit: Jesse Lirola