Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Cloud Nothings

The sound of apathy

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Cloud Nothings
photo by John Anderson

During Cloud Nothings’ Sunday afternoon set, a kid in a punk vest climbed onto the Black stage, took one look at his friends below, and then stage-dived. Nobody caught him. There was no better symbol for the flagrantly flavorless performance this Cleveland quartet – which barely seemed to notice the incident – put forth.

It’s hard to know who’s to blame. It certainly didn’t help that the Nothings were cursed with one of the more agitating sound issues of the whole FFF weekend. Jayson Gerycz’s drums sounded like a jet engine while Dylan Baldi’s guitar was little more than a hapless gnat buzzing around the meadow.

This is a band whose current appeal comes directly tied to Steve Albini’s deep, crystal-clear production on third LP Attack on Memory. Outside of that environment, they start to look very ordinary. And very quickly.

Sound issues aside, no band I saw this weekend sounded more apathetic than Cloud Nothings. Baldi didn’t move an inch, ruthlessly and dispassionately working through “Fall In,” “Stay Useless,” and plenty of other songs he ostensibly cares a lot about. Never has a man looked so comfortable on autopilot.

Sometimes it’s hard to get significantly motivated to play 40 minutes of music at a festival. Cloud Nothings weren’t even willing to fake it. Is that too much to ask? Is it really that hard to be grateful?

From Cloud Nothings, the answer on Sunday was a resounding yes.

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