Cloud Nothings‘ new album, Attack On Memory, was out of left-field. Previously a solo bedroom project by Clevelander dropout Dylan Baldi, Cloud Nothings 1.0 was low-fi, pop-punky, bratty and upbeat. Mostly disposable, at least if you were looking for fidelity or depth. So when Baldi dropped his first Attack single, “No Future/No Past,” a bitchy grinder that wages a war of attrition against its audience, it was a shocker. When he delivered a muscular album of teenage nihilism, filled with full-band jams—well, it was a mouth-foaming surprise. Cloud Nothings 1.0 is dead. Cloud Nothings 2.0 is plural, upset and a rock band.
On stage, the change made total sense. Start with the brat at the front: Baldi looks nerdy, and not “hot nerdy” either. The guy looks like a weasel and sounds like Templeton The Rat. He’s an unlikely band leader, rendered even less likely by the absolute immensity of Cloud Nothings’ sound.
Like all strong bands, Cloud Nothings is anchored by a kickass drummer. Baldi may be the brains, heart and nerdy glasses behind Cloud Nothings, but damned if Jayson Gerycz isn’t the catalyst. During the encore, a few 1.0 oldies were played, and one could morosely envision a half-assed drummer playing a surfy “kick-snare-snare” rhythm if Cloud Nothings wasn’t as lucky or smart. Fortunately, Baldi got himself a badass band, and all four of them crafted something great as a result.
If anything, the weak link in the band was Baldi himself. He’s got songs, a gritty nasal roar and a smattering of guitar chops, but he needs to learn how to use his skills to turn a strong band into a great performance. (Or maybe he doesn’t—this is indie rock, after all.) But Cloud Nothings is still a very young project, and Baldi himself isn’t old enough to drink yet. This is a band with chops, songs and ambition. It’s impressive enough how much potential there is on stage.