Sommer Loft, Berlin
In the shadow of three decades’ worth of limp American teen drama and Tony Hawk sequels, creating hook-laden indie-rock that’s both credible and devoid of cliché isn’t always easy. Then again, when faced with a band like Cloud Nothings, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
The consistency with which Dylan Baldi and his supporting players have hit the mark over four albums is alarming, and while their sound has refined itself over time, at its heart is an honest authenticity that sears through every irresistible hook and riff. Perhaps that’s why Berliners – a people chronically obsessed with their own authenticity – are such fans.
So it is, on a notably chilly August evening, a sold-out crowd packs into the now-rather-incongruous Sommer Loft to catch the Cleveland band tour their excellent fourth album, Here And Nowhere Else. Opening proceedings is Canadian four-piece PUP: a group whose slick execution, infectious energy and impeccable three-part harmonising show them to be equally adept at finding the classy needle amid the bullshit haystack. So much so, in fact, that Baldi & gang’s opener Now Hear In feels a little rough in comparison…
The trio don’t hang around for that to sink in, however, following straight up with impatient renditions of Quieter Today and Pattern Walks. German crowds are notorious for their statuesque gig attendance, but the isolated pockets of pogo-ing that break out in response are a tangible sign of approval. Rather surprisingly, I’m Not Part Of Me – hit single and contender for catchiest tune they’ve ever written – is dropped mid-set with precious little fanfare. It’s no doubt a deliberate decision, but one that feels a little contrary – as if the track is already becoming an albatross they’d rather not inflate.
Whether the band’s complete lack of interaction with the crowd and abject refusal to play an encore (despite earnest protestations otherwise) displays an undercurrent of obstinacy, it’s difficult to say. Baldi’s voice sounds a little strained at times – not least during Wasted Days – so it’s possible the lengthy tour schedule is taking its toll somewhat. Still, while the set seems to fly by in next to no time, the overall effect is one of a sonic smash and grab, and in the silence that follows, only smiles abound.