Cloud Nothings @ St. Luke’s, Glasgow, 28 Jan
Cloud Nothings' return to Glasgow on a Monday night in late January is sparsely attended, feeling like an opportunity missed for the band's fans to hear their new album played in full followed by the hits
Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz can bring the noise of a thousand air raids in one fill. At its best, this show, in front of an unusually muted St Luke’s crowd, feels like watching in bewilderment while some catastrophe goes down on stage, with Gerycz pounding his toms and snares unhinged while reds and whites strobe in the background.
Unfortunately, that sense of urgency – which has perhaps been uncorked again thanks to the searing music of the band’s 2018 sprint of an album Last Building Burning, a return to something a little more hardcore compared to the poppier turns on the previous year’s Life Without Sound – is not sustained throughout a performance that is a game of two halves.
The creative force behind Cloud Nothings, Dylan Baldi, arrives onstage, with the rest of the band in tow, in faux apology: "Sorry about the wait, we were praying." A throwaway joke that they’re playing in a converted church or a sly quip at the fact that the audience is sparse? It doesn’t phase Baldi, who seems cheery between songs considering the angst mined deep within them. It’s no real surprise that the turnout is low – it’s a Monday evening nearing the end of January. But those dedicated enough to make it out witness the entire new record played in full. When the ten plus minute Dissolution arrives, it seems almost too early in a show for such a mammoth deconstruction of a band’s sound, but the break down and rebuild go over brilliantly.
Cloud Nothings are often prone to race through their songs, as if they’re in a hurry to pack in as many as possible – no real surprise when you have so many hooks to show off. But Baldi and the band seem at ease with these new songs, content to let them play out at a more languid pace, letting them breathe, even when they reach their most aggressive. So Right So Clean is almost melancholy.
Afterwards, they launch into some of their most well-known tracks – Modern Act, Enter Entirely, I’m Not Part of Me. They’re all thrilling, but the speed picks up, as does the crowd, as does the sense that having a new record you're proud of being met with a colder reception than the old ones you’ve played countless times, even right here in Glasgow, can be a little demoralising.
That’s not to say that the band do anything other than play them with aplomb, returning for an encore of Wasted Days in its full glory. For the most dedicated fan, it’s great as usual, but the show finishes with the feeling that, in the presence of a livelier crowd, the January blues could have been brought to a gloriously destructive end.