Scenes From Last Night's Cloud Nothings and The Men Show at Club Dada.
Nothing was especially complicated about last night's show at Club Dada. There was no doubt: Everything you heard came directly from the three groups of musicians that took the stage. There were no studio tricks that were dubiously replicated; there was no excessive stagecraft to obscure talent deficiencies.
No, Sunday’s Parade of Flesh-booked, three-act show was simply a masterclass in loud, dirty rock music. It might not have been the best thing for the health of your ears. But it was great for the soul.
Nude Beach — the first of the night’s two Brooklyn-based acts — began its set as the crowd, which would end filling probably three-quarters of the venue, filed in. The band was clearly the little brother on this one-off bill that found co-headliners Cloud Nothings and The Men merging their tours. Credit to Nude Beach, though: It takes guts to take the stage in front of a couple of acts with such raucous live reputations. But the three-piece acquitted itself nicely, blending garage fuzz with a decidedly punk look and smart power pop structure. About the only negative thing that could be said about the Chuck Betz-led band's rollicking half-hour set was that the performance lacked spontaneity. Down to Betz's closing solo, everything seemed a little calculated. Odd, since everything else about the band’s playing makes you wished it'd come unglued at some point. That it didn't, though, is just a quibble. Point is, Nude Beach set the table nicely.
And The Men? They stomped all over it — in the best way. When this show was announced, the genre-hopping quintet was listed as the headliner. If things had stayed that way — and Cloud Nothings hadn't been added to the bill later — it wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing; The Men are about as good a live act as you can ever hope to see. That's something that, as we learned when we talked to the keyboardist Mark Perro before the show, stems from the band playing everything live, even in the studio.
It's a formula that works: While The Men have on their last two albums — 2013’s New Moon and March’s Tomorrow’s Hits — moved strongly into straightforward territory, Sunday’s gig, as most of the band's live shows do, leaned heavily on the these players' punk roots. The nuances of Tomorrow's Hits — its horns and pianos especially — are untenable when you're playing places like Dada, so it's to the band's benefit that it has so much still-great, less-complicated stuff it can break out.
And break it out the band did: The Men's players swapped vocal duties throughout its set and just straight tore through its setlist — immediately validating its staunch reputation, and, for the most part, keeping everyone away from the Stars game showing TVs above the bar at the opposite end of the room.
The Stars' collapse started at the tail-end of The Men’s set — and, lucky for Cloud Nothings, it was over before the Clevelanders took the stage. The hockey fans in the crowd might not have happy in that moment, but at least there wasn't going to be push-pull tension between the stage and the anxiety of an overtime elimination game in the NHL playoffs.
And, to be sure, Frontman Dylan Baldi and company did their part to make sure anyonein need of a pick-me-up got just that quickly enough. Cloud Nothing's furious, short songs can't help but energize a room. Before long a small but boisterous pit started up near center stage, and the crowd's significant underage contingent finally cut loose. Cloud Nothings was what the X'ed-out cohort was waiting for, and it showed. By the time the band's last song came — a 10 minute-plus cut that was an encore unto itself — most of the crowd looked contented.
They had been nourished by the noise, but it was time to go home. On a Saturday night, they might have wanted more. But, on this night, Monday loomed.
All photos by Jeremy Hughes.