Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Cloud Cult at the Black Cat in D.C. last night.

I’ve been waiting a very, very long time to see this band live – I think I may know just about every song they’ve ever done. I’ve seen some live video, particularly from their documentary No One Said It Would Be Easy, and the in-studio work at The Current a few years back and this more current offering from the new CD and their visit to KEXP in Seattle. It wasn’t long into my Cloud Cult time to see it grow to infatuation and the realization that I was on to something I’d enjoy for the rest of my life. The music is ethereal, bombastic at times, operatic often, and probably the most exciting and vibrant stuff I’ve even owned. I’ve missed them on at least two occasions here in D.C. – other agenda items – and wondered when my luck would change…I almost didn’t go last night: Monday and all, I had class from 6 to about 7:30, and I was tired. It would have been the biggest mistake to stay home.

The Black Cat is a venue that might hold 300-350 when sold out but was comfortably only loaded with about 150 for last night’s show. A perfect-sized crowd in a club that’s just about the limit of what I enjoy these days. As the band was getting everything in order just prior to kicking off, I wandered to my chosen standing square right in the middle of the floor and about 15 feet from the stage. The lights dropped and they opened with the last song, Unexplainable Stories, from their new CD Unexplainable Stories, which is a reprise (pre-prise?) of the last track on the same CD – it’s a slow, quiet-ish song that builds to an almost indistinguishable peak before fading to nothing. After that quick taste it was merely a few switches on the computer for Craig and off we went into fucking orbit. ORBIT. Nearly 80 minutes of floating amidst the sound, light, and (actual) painting that was on offer right before my eyes and ears. Standing mid-floor with the sound centered all around was simply perfection for me and for the first time in a long, long while I didn’t mind standing at a show. Any idea of being further away or standing under some peripheral lighting near the bar wouldn’t have crossed one’s mind; you were held right in place but every piece of the performance – empty glass in my hand be damned. It’s impossible to truly get the idea of what a live Cloud Cult show is all about. Even the documentary and live studio versions only give you about 10% of what’s going on with this band when they are in full flight on a dark night. Having five players all singing together, and often adding in the voices of the two painters, the trombone, the strings, the French horn, the xylophone, the effects, lights, fog, dreamy lyrics, the crazy drummer…it’s overwhelming while all the while giving you peace and comfort. You dance, you smile, you wonder. It was truly, truly amazing. I honestly feel like I’m done seeing shows now…

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