Cloud Nothings, Bleached - SXSW - 3/15/12
Yesterday it was sticky, but Consequence of Sound threw a day party with a killer lineup that let us cool our heels and laugh at the East coast kids who were marveling at how awesome the weather was.
Princeton played early under a grey utilitarian tent in the back parking lot. Their polished pop spiked with sharp harmonies from their new album played well with the crowd, but lead singer Jesse Kivel wasn't satisfied. "You guys look tired. The thing is: me too." Not a good thing to announce. It just made us feel guilty and sluggish. You never want to feel guilty at a rock show (after, perhaps).
Princeton's Ben Usen
Inside the beauty parlor themed venue, Henry Clay People put together a set that would make the Hold Steady proud. It was bar rock at its finest. Didn't matter that the walls sparkled with pink glitter and the chairs had hair dryers fixed to them, Henry Clay People came in with their meaty guitar solos made the place feel like it was 5pm at a truck stop. They had dudes head banging and singing along to their riotous incomprehensible chants.
The biggest surprise of the afternoon was the hordes of people who showed up for Mikal Cronin. Joined by his buddy Ty Segall, the former member of the Moonhearts, they brightly melded 1960s surf rock harmonies with thrashing guitars and towering drums. It was the best kind of sloppy rock, full of energy, unpolished, but all of the notes got hit. There was no sheen of pretention, it was all heart and the crowd knew it.
Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings
Inside under the ominous blue lights Bleached immediately followed. Now I'm not sure if it was the time of day or something they ate, but the girls were off. Instead of punk rock intensity, they were sweet but insubstantial. It was almost as if they were a cover band of themselves. We're going to chalk that up to SXSW exhaustion, but the ferocious intensity that they're known for just wasn't there.
Or perhaps the Cloud Nothings zapped it out of them. Closing down the party, the much hyped youngsters did not disappoint raining down a set of pure unadulterated rage. Not yet able to drink, these kids from Ohio put together a masterful set that was bigger, louder and grungier than anything else that was played that day. Unable to handle the pressure of Jayson Greycz's manic beating, the house drum kit broke during the solo in the middle of "Wasted Days" while the crowd clutching their ears chanting "I thought! I would! Be more! Than this!" Baby-faced Dylan Baldi screamed into the mic with a desperation that was riveting. By the end of the afternoon, everyone left the bar with their ears ringing and their pulses pumping.
Random Notebook Dump: Did they only invite bands from L.A. with siblings to this gig?
Overheard in the crowd: I think I'm about to find out if it's possible to die from second hand smoke.
Critical bias: I'm a sucker for a good drum solo that actually breaks the set.
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