The Biltmore Cabaret’s stage is no more than two feet tall, and at first I thought the venue would be too small for such a class act like Cloud Nothings to play. But I was to be proven wrong. On February 16, suffice to say, Cloud Nothings conquered Vancouver for the evening as they filled the Biltmore Cabaret to the brim, on their tour supporting their brand new album Life Without Sound.
However, for the Los Angeles-based opening act, ITASCA, the venue and audience were much too big for their colour of mellow, soft spoken folk rock. But that didn’t stop singer-songwriter Kayla Cohen as she sang while her hands effortlessly played her sunburst Guild acoustic guitar or her 12-string, which further highlighted the sweet sounds of her intricate finger-picking patterns. She was accompanied by the beautifully swelling sounds of the lap steel guitarist beside her, which mostly overshadowed her vocals — but I won’t deny that it sounded pretty cool regardless. Whether or not it was intentional, the slide guitar’s high-pitched hum while paired with Cohen’s acoustic guitar sounded eerily similar to Jimmy Page’s slide guitar solo on Led Zeppelin’s acoustic song, “Tangerine.” If that alone doesn’t pique your interest in this band, I’m afraid there must be something terribly wrong with you (jokingly, of course).
With all that said, playing to an audience expecting something similar to Cloud Nothings’ noise pop, the band was doomed to fail at the start. The crowd talked nearly the entire set and ITASCA well-deserve a second chance.
The second Cloud Nothings started playing, I abandoned any sense of professionalism I had about my duty as a critic and spent the entirety of their set and encore inside the hellish frenzy of fun that was the mosh pit — it was the most fun I’ve had at a show in a very long time. For the most part, I was squished against two headbangers who themselves were squished against the stage monitors, holding the line between the band and the crowd.
Singer, guitarist and bandleader Dylan Baldi damn near yelled his lungs out. But the most impressive part of the entire show was watching Jayson Gerycz, in some circles known as “The Unknown Drummer,” absolutely going to town on his drumset, with his awe inspiring drum fills. For years now he’s been labelled as one of the most underrated drummers of this decade, and anybody who’s seen him live can attest to that. Everybody I had talked to after the show each said the same thing: “That drummer…” followed by a long, amazed pause.
They ended their main set, which spanned their last three albums since their breakthrough, Attack On Memory, with a full length rendition of their famous nine minute song, “Wasted Days,” — most of which is the mid-song breakdown with each band member making as much noise as possible while Baldi continuously yells, “I thought / I would / Be more / Than this!” Baldi wasn’t one for banter, as he admitted to the crowd with a smirk, “I don’t really say much, but I appreciate you being here!”
I can’t wrap this up any other way than by saying this: it was one of those bands that was so good, you just had to be there to really know how good it really was.