Cloud Nothings at The Independent, by Daniel Kielman

Inserted between the bookending Coachella weekends, Cloud Nothings worked their way up the West Coast for a short jaunt and played to a packed house Sunday night at The Independent, a victory lap in celebration of last year’s slow-but-still-blistering Here and Nowhere Else.  The newer songs have had a longer time to seep into fans’ consciousness and the twelve songs performed drew exclusively from their most recent album and the one prior, Attack on Memory.

Opener G. Green got the night started with a slew of songs that were short and sweet.  While the songs didn’t necessarily have the breakneck pace of the headliner, the slow build was certainly earning them some new fans. The energy was contagious as drummer Liz Liles brought building beats to the indie rock melodies. Lead singer Andrew Henderson remarked near the end of the set that the audience was the best that the band had played for.

Cloud Nothings took to the stage and were light on banter between songs. They don’t need to say much anyways as the songs clearly speak for themselves. Singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi is certainly gaining new fans every day for his deep, often-times tragic lyrics dealing with real emotions and pains, which are set over punk barre chords and hectic drums that push the energy to full. The band neither needs nor has time to spell things out, and cuts to the core of each song quickly.

Things got started with “Pattern Walks,” with the aggressive, distorted guitars immediately infusing the venue with energy. Songs from both albums drew equal amounts of cheers from the audience. A mosh pit took up the center of the floor most of the night with willing entrants thrashing in and out.

It was often times hard to make out the lyrics, but the fans either already knew the words to their favorite songs and chanted along or simply fed off the intensity of the band. Jayson Gerycz delivers punk drum patterns that never feel out of place even on slower numbers, assisted nicely by bassist TJ Duke who provides the necessary pace to Baldi’s melodies. For a three-piece, they do a lot with a little and don’t appear fazed by any of the audience’s antics. Duke and Baldi left plenty of space in the center of the stage as fans climbed up for head-first stage-diving into the crowd, space that allowed the band to keep bringing the tunes.

Near the end of the show after “I’m Not Part of Me,” Cloud Nothings brought things to a simmer as they got the most noise-rock of the night with closer “Wasted Days.”  Near the end of the final song they turned towards one another, shifting the song into one long noise-rock jam. The drums died away, Baldi kept the chords chugging and the band experimented for a few minutes before building everything back up again to a final round of the chorus. It’s nice to see a group not feel like the night has to end on an anthem (and Cloud Nothings have plenty of them) but take time to change things up and wind it down, build it up again and close out a successful night of great music.

Cloud Nothings do a great job towing the line between engaging in their punk roots and not sounding like amateurs. Four albums deep the members are all pros, even handling a transition from four to three members. They’re certainly growing their audience and it’ll only be a matter of time until the venues are larger and the barricades are up, which is sure to make the stage-diving harder to get away with.