TVD Live: Cloud Nothings at Mahall’s, 5/9

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC  | “We’re Cloud Nothings and we’re from Medina and Westlake.”
Dylan Baldi, Singer, Cloud Nothings

That’s how the show started last Friday at Mahall’s in Lakewood, OH. Not the standard “We’re from Cleveland” crowd pandering, oh no! Hyper-specific suburban Cleveland pandering!

It was perfect because here was one of the most beloved indie rock bands, playing a small converted billiards room in a bowling alley, in their hometown of Cleveland. It felt like something was happening in that room on that drunken, sweaty Friday night. That night, Cloud Nothings went in.

“But I’m not, I’m not you. You’re a part of me, you’re a part of me.”
“I’m Not Part of Me”

Cloud Nothings never did fully feel part of the Cleveland scene. The tale has been told many times, but Baldi basically got his start writing lo-fi rock in his parent’s basement while a freshman at Case Western Reserve University under a fuck ton of different band names. One was Cloud Nothings, he got an offer from a small indie label and he was off. Literally and figuratively, Baldi was a shooting star that never really became a “thing” in Cleveland more than anywhere else, and it happened quickly.

He lived in Brooklyn. The band recorded in Austin. He lived in Paris. Never a fixture on the local scene, Cleveland was always part of the story, never a functional element of the band’s history.

However, I say this with no malice. Sometimes great things happen in Cleveland, other times they briefly start here and happen somewhere else. Cloud Nothings, and Baldi in particular, experienced the world and made all the right choices to get where they are today. The band fucking rocks and artistic success comes before some bullshit civic pride.

But this brings us full circle because in that room at Mahall’s, on that Friday night, Cloud Nothings connected with the audience and represented a piece of Cleveland. Everything came together for one of the most mind-blowing show experiences of my life.

“Nothing left for you to us. Nothing left.”
“Fall In”

I’ve never been fortunate enough to see Cloud Nothings play live in person, but I’ve followed at a distance for a while. I’ve seen the great 2013 Coachella performance. The late night appearances. The radio sessions.

They’ve all been great. A tight rock band playing awesome songs.

But on Friday night there was an extra component there – there was emotion. I don’t know if it was because it was a hometown show in front of their friends and family that made the difference, but the band played hard. Like fucking hard as shit.

It’s always striking to see a band put it all out there and play their ass off to the point of having nothing left. Their hour-long set covered the expanse of their work as a band, mostly drawing from their excellent last two releases Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else, and there was no bullshit. No chit chat (save for an adorable moment when Baldi asked the crowd to wish his mom a happy Mother’s Day, only to reveal that’s all he got her) and no wasted time. The band pretty much went from one song to the next, only pausing for a brief second to catch their breath.

This is where I want to take a moment to give a shout out to drummer Jayson Gerycz. You did your THING, dude. Like this guy destroyed on the drums. Pretty much everything you read about Cloud Nothings is Baldi-centric, and rightfully so to a certain extent, but Gerycz wrecked shit back behind the kit and deserves some ink. This guy was tight, aggressive and was the source of energy at the show. I’ll be honest and say I don’t really pay attention to drummers all that often, but I’ve never seen a drummer have to tighten down his snare twice in one set. He went from starting the set with a hat and glasses on, then lost the hat, then lost the glasses… so shit was basically flying off the guy. Mad respect to Jason Gerycz.

“I need time to stop moving.”
“Stay Useless”

The high points of the night were the two extended instrumentals: “Separation” and the noise/rock out section of “Wasted Days.” While the band trashed away on stage, the crowd and the room became something different. Sad sack Cleveland, Ohio transformed into the buzzing electric atmosphere of a small club in a “hip” place like Austin or Brooklyn. People were nodding their heads and the pit was going. It was loud, rowdy, and fucking fun.

It was awesome to see a completely sold-out room with energy in Cleveland, where sometimes we take for granted the cool clubs and music scene we have. There’s no reason the city can’t be an Austin or Nashville, but it’s up to the people on the music scene to make it that way by supporting every show and fucking going nuts. For one night though, Cloud Nothings made us feel like it was all happening right now.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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