Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings kind of sound like all of the bands from my hometown that never quite made it.” I heard someone say it, but the thought was at the tip of many minds during the band’s recent show at the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn. And it’s true: Cloud Nothings sound familiar. The primary difference between them and those lost hometown bands is that these guys made it, and quickly, a messy fact that begs the obvious question: Why? How the hell did they manage to get out of Cleveland? And what’s all of this about, anyway?

I might be older and further along on the cynical side of the stands, but it’s hard to be fully committed to a band that pens songs aimed furiously at teenage hormones. Watching Cloud Nothings live reminded me of how stupid I used to be― and probably still am. Cap’n Jazz, Jawbreaker, Pinkerton―they all once posed similar questions for me in high school, one that struck at the heart of my then-spongy soul: Will we ever grow up? More importantly, can we ever go back? Most importantly: Will Susie ever see ditch that shitty quarterback boyfriend of hers and meet me behind the bleachers just once?

No, and yes (and―sigh―no again). Cloud Nothings aim to fill the hole created by so many bands loved by people who discover them when first forging their identity. Modest Mouse did it for me when I was learning how to quit the football team without my friends finding out. A friend of mine said it best: I would really like this band if I were 16. She’s in her mid-20s. I’m in my mid-20s. People like us don’t have many heroes younger than us, at least not on paper. It’s bad form for the cynic. And when Cloud Nothings say a line as loose as “Forget everything, no nostalgia, no sentiment, we’re over it now, and we were over it then,” I’m glad to know they’re not talking to me.

But I don’t have anything too wicked to say about this young band. If anything, I’m a tad envious of their rapid ascent―singer/songwriter Dylan Baldi is just 20 years old, dammit―but it’s clear that it doesn’t knock me off of my feet the way he might once have. I’m, as they say, out of their demographic. But is it their fault, or mine? The crowd at their sold-out show (in support of their Steve Albini-produced new album Attack on Memory) was made up entirely of people over 21 year-olds, and most of them seemed to be enjoying themselves. What’s wrong with emo? I found myself asking myself while Baldi screamed lyrics like “I need time, to start moving, I need time, to stay useless” at my face. A little vague, sure, but isn’t all rock music open to interpretation?

Cloud Nothings performed at Glasslands Gallery 03.29.12

Lane Koivu