Thoughts on: Cloud Nothings at the Amsterdam
Standing in the newish (to me) Amsterdam Bar in downtown St. Paul Sunday night, I came to realize how little I listen to “guitar based” music anymore. For someone raised up on the holy alliance between the power chord and distortion, fed at the nipple of guitar gods, this was a strange occurrence. Seeing Cloud Nothings on stage, tearing through the songs from their lo-fi catalog, with a heavy reliance on their latest Steve Albini produced Attack on Memory, felt a little like a “come to jesus” moment. From the frantic instrumental “Separation” to the charging “No Future/No Past,” there was minimal left brain calculation and more right brain fuzzy glory, really staggering the relativity small crowd gathered for this Sunday night show. The four piece, led by the angsty frontman Dylan Baldi, walked a fine line between focused, 90’s influenced lo-fi and abusive noodling, bobbing and weaving over the course of their set. Their set seemed like a cathartic release for the (mostly white, 30 something or older) crowd who clearly ate up the distorted guitars that the band provided in spades.
Opening the show was local duo Bloodnstuff, who set the stage well for Cloud Nothings by pummeling the crowd with their 40 minute set leaning on tracks from their debut LP. Their songs look back to an even earlier time than Cloud Nothings, touching on 70’s influences, and were more focused and to the point, which provided an interesting contrast to the headliners. The crowd was actually bigger for Bloodnstuff, which speaks to both their commanding live set and the fact that it was a Sunday night show.
Both bands gave me something (unabashed guitar rock) that I don’t seek out much anymore. Maybe I have grown out of it, or maybe I was looking in the wrong places, but Sunday night reminded me why, at least at one point, this was my musical wheelhouse. I think it helped that both of these groups are very good at what they do, and I expect they both will be moving into bigger venues in the very near future, bringing their guitar rock to even bigger crowds than the lucky few who gathered Sunday at the Amsterdam.