REVIEW: Cloud Nothings, LVL UP @ Paradise Rock Club 01/31

Photo by Jesse Lirola

Just four days after the release of their fifth full-length album, Cloud Nothings took the Paradise Rock Club by storm along with their opening act, LVL UP.

Being a Tuesday night, the venue was very loosely packed as the time creeped closer to 8 p.m. But as New York rock band LVL UP began their set, the crowd pressed forward to attentively take in the four-piece’s music.

LVL UP’s sound is distinct in its simplicity. The repetitive bass lines and basic chords overlaid by riffs are charmingly straightforward. The band played songs like “Spirit Was” from their latest album, Return to Love, released late last year. LVL UP also did a raw rendition of fan-favorite “I Feel Extra-Natural.” When the band explained that they all had lost their set lists, three or four voices chimed in from the crowd to make some requests.

“Yeah, those songs aren’t on it,” laughed bassist Nick Corbo.

Nonetheless, those same voices were just as loud when they sang along to the remaining songs of the set.

By the time Cloud Nothings took the stage, the crowd at the Paradise was a dense sea of hipsters in beanies. There was an excited energy that was noticeably being pent up until the Cleveland band strolled out and launched into “Pattern Walks” from 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else. Immediately the crowd was jumping about and calling out each word in unison with guitarist and frontman Dylan Baldi.

Cloud Nothings played through an explosive set full of songs off of their three most recent albums, excluding tracks from their first two. They showcased all of the songs from Life Without Sound, the album Cloud Nothings released on Jan. 27, minus “Up to the Surface” and “Strange Year.”

Paradise Rock Club by nature is a loud venue, but Cloud Nothings brought the volume to another level. It helped create the illusion that the concert was actually a sweaty basement show in Cleveland circa 2010 before the rise of Cloud Nothings instead of in a large Boston club. Even as the band has adopted a marginally cleaner, sharper sound with each one of their albums, they still have an unmistakable lo-fi, DIY sound and ethic laced into their antics and music. That spirit acted as a backdrop for the entire show. It was the unrestrained chaos, the sweat, and the gravelly screams of Baldi and his stage presence that truly captured it.

Songs like “Stay Useless” had people emotionally belting out lyrics and practically throwing their bleeding hearts (or their sweaty bodies) onto the stage at Baldi. As Cloud Nothings began nearing the end of their set, they played another fan favorite, “I’m Not Part of Me.” This is when every die-hard fan transformed into the band’s friends in that Cleveland basement. It was evident that everyone supported the band wholeheartedly and would follow them into a rock ‘n’ roll revolution were they given the chance.

And they got that chance. During the encore, the band returned to stage by playing “Fall In” and then creating a wall of sound. Distortion, screams and heavy bass notes melded into a single, ringing hum of noise. That noise then flowed right into “Wasted Days” from the band’s 2012 album Attack On Memory. The recording of this song has a sort of vocal melody that Baldi executes with passion, but also rhythm. On stage, however, he let loose. Impassioned singing turned into electrically charged screams as the bass paraded behind. It was no longer a song, but an experience—one that the crowd took part in as they looked on incredulously. Cloud Nothings proved that night that no matter how poppy they may seem in some of the new releases, they are, at the very core, a rock ‘n’ roll band.

-Olivia Gehrke