Getty Images The 2012 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas kicks off March…
- Posted on Oct 23rd 2010 8:27AM by Kenneth Partridge
It's only now, when anyone with a laptop can make and distribute their own music, that we get people like Dylan Baldi. Friday night, the man behind Cleveland's great indie hopes, Cloud Nothings, led his band through at least two CMJ Music Marathon shows, the second of which took place at the New York City pop-up performance space and free-beer dispensary Fader Fort.
"We just played a show 20 minutes ago," Baldi said, seconds after sprinting through the first of the seven songs he and his three bandmates would squeeze into a thrilling 25-minute set.
The 19-year-old frontman is gangly and bespectacled, and he speaks much like his band plays: fast. As he proceeded to tell some story about the showcase he'd just come from -- it had something to do with being freaked out by pornography -- it was anyone's guess what he was on about.
He fared better when he stuck to singing, and in the live setting, Cloud Nothings avoid the lo-fi production touches that make 'Turning On,' their debut album, something of a slog. Friday night, Baldi focused on clear vocals and a fierce, fuzzy guitar attack. Watching him tear through 'Morgan' and 'Didn't You,' it was hard not to think of Green Day's 'Dookie,' a record that came out when these dudes were just toddlers.
On that latter song -- played at twice the speed of the recorded version -- drummer Jayson Gerycz marked the choruses with choppy hi-hat beats, showing his love for either late-'90s ska or the dance-punk that came along a few years later. Whichever the case, it's not the kind of musical reference that's going to win you cool-guy points in 2010, and if you're wearing an extra-large Hawaiian shirt, it's even worse.
But this is a band that sings a song called 'Hey Cool Kid.' Baldi is a great songwriter with a quick strumming hand and strong sense of melody, but Friday night, he played like he knew he was lucky to be at the party. In any other decade, he might have been stuck out on Delancey Street, waiting to get in.