Cloud Nothings + The Courtneys @ Bar Le Ritz – 28th November 2018

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The last time Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings came to town almost 2 years ago, I promised that the sound issues that soured that show wouldn’t keep me away from seeing them a fifth time the next time they came to town. Tonight I make good on that promise! And boy oh boy, is that decision vindicated.

courtneys band

Vancouver’s The Courtneys do a great job setting the stage. Their Bandcamp page describes them as “sun-drenched flying nun influenced pop with sweet licks that’ll stick with you for days.” Pretty abstract, but you kinda get it. To me, they definitely have a first-wave vibe, moody, with churning bass lines for the most part, though set closer Frankie is definitely a poppy departure with a dance beat. Ones to watch for sure.

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The Courtneys Set List

1. Silver Velvet
2. Country Song
3. Minnesota
4. Lost Boys
5. FND
6 Insufficient Funds
7. Nathan
8. Frankie

cloud nothings ritz

Cloud Nothings were originally booked to play at the 600-capacity l’Astral, but presumably due to slower-than-expected ticket sales, was moved last-minute to the 300-capacity Bar Le Ritz instead. And what a masterstroke that was. Instead of an awkward half-empty theatre, we have a packed-out intimate space, and for me personally, a throwback to Cloud Nothings show #1 which I saw in this very room, albeit to a much smaller crowd way back then. The band elect to start the show by playing their stellar new record Last Building Burning from start to finish, “because why not?!” (according to frontman Dylan Baldi). A great choice, because that record is brilliant. Album/set opener On An Edge is ferocious, with Dylan snarling off to the right of the stage under a faint blue spotlight in parallel with thunderous drums provided by birthday-boy Jayson Gerycz. Leave Him Now sounds like the closest thing Cloud Nothings have ever gotten to a *cough* “love song,” though sounds every bit as frantic and breakneck as you’ve come to expect after 5 albums. In Shame is almost the crash back to reality, as Dylan howls “they won’t remember my name / I’ll be alone in my shame!!!”

cloud nothings montreal photos

Offer An End sees guitarist Chris Brown providing vocals to back up Dylan, before crouching to add wailing feedback effects to the outro, before Jayson’s booming drums come back to the fore on Echo Of The World. The 11-minute opus Dissolution sounds even more epic live than on record, if that’s even possible, and reminds you of why this show is so much better at a place like Bar Le Ritz than l’Astral; its so loud, I swear my earplugs are starting to dissolve. The grumbling feedback breakdown leads to another furious outro, so much so that Jayson has to towel himself off right afterwards. So Right So Clean offers relative calm after the storm before an accelerated Another Way Of Life closes out the new record in frantic manner. Stunning stuff indeed.

cloud nothings review

After the new record is done, a few other choice cuts from the band’s discography constitute the rest of the set. The 2017 Life Without Sound record gets representation in the form of the grinding Realize My Fate and Strange Year, which then leads into the furious bass intro of the epic Pattern Walks, provided courtesy of T.J. Duke. Stay Useless, from the acclaimed 2012 Attack On Memory record (incredibly, 6 years old now!) features what feels like the first quiet-ish moment of the show, allowing a resonant crowd singalong to take over before crowd-surfers take to the air on I’m Not Part Of Me. Psychic Trauma constitutes the 1-song encore, and the pit goes crazy one more time before the band leaves the stage for good after 70 thunderous minutes. Show #5 was an absolute blast; roll on #6!

cloud nothings bar le ritz montreal

Cloud Nothings Set List

1. On An Edge
2. Leave Him Now
3. In Shame
4. Offer An End
5. The Echo Of The World
6. Dissolution
7. So Right So Clean
8. Another Way Of Life
9. Realize My Fate
10. Strange Year
11. Pattern Walks
12. Stay Useless
13. I’m Not Part Of Me

14. Psychic Trauma

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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