Concert review: Cloud Nothings at Double Happiness

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A bulk of the audience packed into a sold-out Double Happiness on Friday looked as though it could have been in Cloud Nothings.

Appropriately, the Cleveland trio's music struck a nerve with the youthful, sparsely bearded crowd, singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi, 22, expressing the angst, frustration and, at times, sheer hopelessness of coming of age in a time dominated by economic uncertainty and news headlines that occasionally read like End Times proclamations. "No future!" he growled on one gnashing tune. Later, on "Wasted Days," he howled, "I thought I would be more than this!" like a man trapped in a life he never envisioned for himself.

These mounting frustrations often left the singer struggling to properly communicate - sometimes by choice ("I'm not telling you all I'm going through," he shouted on "I'm Not Part of Me"), sometimes not ("I don't know what you're trying to say," he offered helplessly amidst the slash-and-burn of "Psychic Trauma").

Even in those moments Baldi's words failed him, however, the music managed to get his point across. For nearly an hour, the trio crafted a jittery, angst-ridden, explosive stew of live-wire guitar, pogoing bass and propulsive drums courtesy of man-beast Jayson Gerycz, who struck his kit with such force at one point on "Wasted Days" that it sounded as if the venue itself had cracked in two.

At times, both Baldi and his guitar sounded equally frayed. Before launching into "I'm Not Part of Me," he announced he had broken a string, yet he plowed ahead undeterred, delivering a rumbling, churlish flurry of riffs that mirrored his chalk-dust howls. On "Giving Into Seeing," a ferocious cut that could have passed for a lost track off Nirvana's In Utero, the frontman repeatedly growled the word "swallow" in a graveled, Crypt Keeper tone that suggested he was reading aloud from the Book of the Dead. "Pattern Walks" opened slowly with scattered cymbal crashes, strangled guitar and elongated basslines - the sound of the musicians limbering up - before bursting into a blur of flailing limbs and weirdly melodic white noise.

Frequently the audience joined the band in a mass sing along, transforming the songs into a fist-pumping, communal roar. So while Cloud Nothings' music might be born of discontent, uncertainty, and frustration, perhaps Baldi and Co. can take some solace in knowing they are far from alone in these feelings of alienation.