All words: Shona Fenner
All photos: Haley Plotkin
The first band, A Classic Education, is a group from Bologna, Italy. I love me some Europeans but these guys seem to embody the American melting pot idea and could be from Wichita or Mexico City for all I could tell. This heavily tattooed five-piece band seemed a bit like Placebo’s younger brother during some songs. They manage to be the quintessential indie-pop band without seeming pretentious at all (good for you guys!). They enjoyed playing and the audience reflected that as we all stopped talking and started listening.
A Classic Education are a chipper bunch with hearts on sleeves. Their music comes across brighter and more jubilant than in recordings, making for the perfect opener. Not only that, A Classic Education had some of the best band shirts I’ve seen in awhile. Try “Baby, It’s Fine” before you start seeing it on tons of mixtapes.
The headliner is an American garage band with biting guitar called Cloud Nothings. If you haven’t heard of them yet you probably aren’t reading this review, since you haven’t found yourself on a music blog in about a year or two. The band hails from Cleveland, a city that I directly associate with The Drew Carey Show theme song. Thankfully Cloud Nothings ROCKS a significantly more than that show. Lead singer Dylan Baldi gives us some snarly vocals that combine with a surprisingly catchy melody to produce a sound I find familiar and refreshing at the same time. Their music hits all the triggers to remind you of some other band, typically a band from your past that has slipped through the cracks in your musical evolution. Don’t shoot me when I say this… Cloud Nothings reminds me of a more amiable Sunny Day Real Estate. Try watching the video for “No Future, No Past” and see how you like it.
Cloud Nothings is a noisey band but you get the feeling that all the gnashing and wailing on guitars is very deliberate. They may have that comfortable hometown garage band feel but their music isn’t a simplistic vent for angst, it has more of a mission than that. Halfway through the set we heard the band literally play the crap out of their instruments for like six minutes. Each time you would feel a little distracted or bored the music with build, add more distortion, and crash back into itself, picking up speed frantically.
I enjoy a band that doesn’t play the audience for fools. After announcing that they only had one more song left Cloud Nothings played “No Future, No Past” as the audience stood and happily bobbed along a little harder than before, soaking up the performance that we all just realized would eventually end. Instead of parading backstage while we enthusiastically applauded Baldi and his crew launched right into the next song. Cloud Nothings fans proved themselves to be patient folk while crowding the merch table afterward, and I will directly attribute this to the immediacy of the entire performance. We could all come down off a sublime music high and go out into whatever the night had in store for each of us.