CLEVELAND, Ohio – Two of Cleveland’s most talked-about bands joined forces on Friday night for a powerful, local show at the Beachland Ballroom.
Headlining indie rock band Cloud Nothings, with support from experimental collective Mourning [A] BLKstar and the rock band Donkey Bugs.
Cloud of nothing and mourning [A] BLKstar put on performances which, although very different, went well together. The bands toured together for the last five dates of Cloud Nothings’ tour, which ultimately ended with the Cleveland show: kind of homecoming.
On the surface, Mourning and Cloud Nothings aren’t an obvious touring match. Cloud Nothings is half the size of Mourning [A] BLKstar, with a different and louder rock sound compared to the afrofuturist group that bends to the genre. Mourning has been around for about half the time Cloud Nothings rocked, and it won numerous accolades in his day, including, most recently, a Cleveland Arts Prize.
The two bands were a treat to watch live, especially seeing them play side by side.
Before these two took to the stage, the opening act Donkey Bugs featured an imaginative and eerie setting. The project featured bassist and electronic player Steve Peffer and singer Haley Himiko Hudson Morris, who also collaborate with post-punk Cleveland Pleasure Leftists.
Unique costumes included a milk crate hat, extra-long wedding dress, and retro sunglasses, while accessories included alphabet flash cards, newspapers, and foam hammers. With the band’s over-the-top vocals and droney basslines, the whole performance of Donkey Bugs felt like a cabaret show on an acidic bad trip.
Then the mourning [A] BLKstar dropped off on stage for a wonder of a performance. Various influences mingled with the collective’s eight different musicians: drummer Dante Foley (who celebrated a birthday on Friday night), trumpeter Theresa May, guitarist Pete Saudek, trombonist William Washington, bassist RA Washington and vocalists James Longs , LaToya Kent and Kyle Kidd.
The group followed songs like “If I Can”, “Mist: Missed” and “Hold Me”. Kent, Kidd, and Longs all mesmerized audiences with soulful vocals, while Washington pumped the crowd between songs. The restless crowd was enthralled Friday night, moving to some intense and emotional music – with the exception of a few audience members who sadly chatted loudly during the show’s quieter moments.
Then Cloud Nothings broke away from the soul-funk-jazz explosion, soaring through a punk performance with little talk between songs. Overhead, the disco ball never stopped spinning during the Cloud Nothing show, sending points of light into the room.
Lead singer and Westlake native Dylan Baldi strummed his guitar fiercely, performing many of the songs from the 2021 album “The Shadow I Remember” (“Oslo”, “The Spirit Of”, “Nothing Without You “,” A Longer Moon “) as well as excerpts from the group’s ten years of history (” Pattern Walks “,” Stay Useless “,” Modern Act “). The band – Baldi, drummer Jayson Gerycz, bassist TJ Duke and guitarist Chris Brown – sounded tight in their hour-long set.
A highlight of the evening was the endless performance of Cloud Nothing from “Wasted Days”, which drew Mourning [A] BLKstar’s Washington and May on stage to add the texture of a brass section to the shoegazey soundscape. As the song descended into chaos, the trombonist and trumpeter riffed on the indie scuzz.
Of course, the long song probably could have been two minutes shorter and could have featured more Mourning. [A] BLKstar performers. But the song’s rockout only benefited from the added musicians on stage.
Seeing these two local bands vibrate together was a special moment: a very Cleveland moment.
Check out more photos from the concert in the gallery at the top of this article.
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