Crowd-pleasing Cloud Nothings defy labels at Larimer Lounge

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There's been some discussion as to what to label Cloud Nothings. Punk, noise-rock, garage-rock, grunge and even emo have been tossed around when referring to the Ohio-based trio. But to put it into one of these labels would be a disservice. As the band proved at the Larimer Lounge last night, it is all of those influences and spirits of genres past, thrown together into something new.

Cloud Nothings, as much as it draw from various influences -- and it would be hard to deny that Dylan Baldi's demeanor isn't directly inspired by Kurt Cobain -- works hard to defy any set label. It's the kind of music you blast in headphones while contemplating the lack of meaning in your tormented existence. And in a way that makes perfect sense and no sense at all, is the kind of music you mosh and dance to in the basement-esque Larimer Lounge while sweat and cheap beer fly and hundreds of packed Denverites belt out "I'm not telling you what I'm going through" with big grins.

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The drums assault you while the guitar hooks urge you to dance and the lyrics, which in a live setting devolve into unintelligible angst-fueled screams, push you into the darkness. Combine all those elements somehow bring a sense of joy and belonging and triumph. It shouldn't add up. Yet the messy guitar solos, played by a frontman who looks like he should be exchanging dialogue with Michael Cera instead of writing loud, nihilistic bursts, turns out just right.

Cloud Nothings is pure energy, raw emotion, youthful anger and just plain fun. Through the hour long set, the group blasted through its songs while also taking slow instrumental breaks to let the cacophony overtake the audience. This is a band that is more than a trio of punks. Each member understands he holds power on stage and uses it to attack and lay siege on small venues with his own brand of loud, angry bliss. There was no stage banter and no introductions. Just a full auditory attack filled with catchy melodies, pop-drum beats and choruses shouted by the sold out crowd.

Again, catchy melodies and cacophony are basically opposites, but that is what sets Cloud Nothings apart from other trios specializing in some form loud rock. They know how to take those opposites and blend them together in a way that allows for punks moshing to sing and clap along and the old metal-head in the back of the crowd to play air drums to the fast moments. All while leaving space for the nonchalant crowd leaning against the wall with their PBR tallboys and glasses to nod their heads in approval.

Walking out of that show there are many adjectives that come to mind and a few labels one could put on what just happened. But labels be damned. Cloud Nothings is an experience and a fantastic one at that, and that's all that matters.

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