Cloud Nothings + LVL UP @ Theatre Fairmount – 28th January 2017

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With every visit to Montreal, the stages Cloud Nothings play on get a little bit bigger. In 2012, it was a packed out Casa Del Popolo, 2014 was a packed Il Motore, and tonight, they’ve graduated to Théatre Fairmount – and that’s packed out too. The sense of anticipation is palpable as the band takes to a Montreal stage for the first time in 3 years.

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Before all that though, New York’s LVL UP wander onto the dark stage and proceed to treat the crowd to a short set of edgy alternative rock and it’s obvious a good percentage of the crowd are here to see them as much as the headliners, if not more so! Remaining in near darkness for the entire set, they play a varied collection of songs from their critically acclaimed 2016 album Return To Love. The album ended up on many Best Of Year lists and has certainly taken LVL UP to a whole new audience. earlier songs like the brilliant Angel From Space sound no less impressive though and they easily win over tonight’s crowd.

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The stage is particularly dark and smoky tonight by the time the headliners arrive on it, even by Théatre Fairmount’s standards, and without a word, they launch right into the moody Pattern Walks from 2014’s Here And Nowhere Else record. The rumbling bass and wailing feedback set the mood for what’s to come, as new songs Sight Unseen and Darkened Rings soon follow. It starts to become apparent that something is a little off with the sound tonight, as frontman Dylan’s vocals become drowned out and indistinguishable behind the overpowering drums. It’s generally a fine line between “raw and visceral” and “sloppy and overbearing” even at the best of times, and these sound issues threaten to put the set the wrong side of that line. Due to the band’s record label holding back the release of the new album until just yesterday, the new songs haven’t had time to be digested and appreciated by fans yet either; perhaps that’s why things feel a little flat at this point.

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The more familiar Psychic Trauma gets things back on track, with its slower intro leading into a hugely accelerated chorus, and this is soon followed by the brilliant No Future / No Past from the breakthrough Attack On Memory record from 2012. Huge cheers greet the intro riffs of new song Modern Act, swiftly followed by the disjointed drum beats of Fall In. A huge chunk of the crowd sings along on Stay Useless, before the main set ends with a furious extended version of Wasted Days, played even faster than on record. It breaks down to just the bass, before exploding back to life. Bodies bounce as Dylan screams “I THOUGHT I WOULD BE MORE THAN THIS!” to bring the song, and main set, to a furious climax.

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Upon returning to the stage, Dylan briefly mentions how good it is to back in Montreal after 3 years away, before leading the charge into I’m Not Part Of Me, which elicits a huge singalong from the crowd once more. New songs Internal World and Realize My Fate close out the show, the latter of which unfortunately runs into the noisy, vocally indistinguishable problems of earlier in the show.

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(above photo – Simon Williams)

Having seen many great Cloud Nothings shows (this was my fourth time seeing them), there was definitely a sense of something missing tonight. Be it the inadequate sound, poor timing of the show relative to the release of the record it was supposed to be promoting, the larger size of the venue, or a combination of all three, for me, the show didn’t quite live up to the lofty standards set by the band themselves in times past. Still, this won’t stop me from making it show #5 the next time they come to town!

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Set List

Pattern Walks

Sight Unseen

Darkened Rings

Psychic Trauma

Up To The Surface

No Future / No Past

Things Are Right With You

Modern Act

Fall In

Enter Entirely

Stay Useless

Wasted Days

I’m Not Part Of Me

Internal World

Realize My Fate

Review – Simon Williams (LVL UP review – Steve Gerrard)
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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