by Tiffany Taylor
On January 30th, Union Transfer hosted bands LVL UP and Cloud Nothings for a show that absolutely set the tone for an awesome week. The place was packed; Cloud Nothings are promoting their new album Life Without Sound and had LVL UP accompany them as their only opening act. Late last year, LVL UP released an LP called Return to Love. After a few more tour dates, the two bands will be parting ways onto their own separate tours.
I can only guess that most of the crowd was there for LVL UP, especially given that the band’s name was chanted quite a bit during their set. However, the crowd only grew bigger as the show commenced. The band opened with “Blur,” which is featured on their newest album, and blue and purple lights completely engulfed the stage, making things seem very ominous and interesting. Their drummer deserves a mention right off the bat; Greg Rutkin is a phenomenal live performer. They went from song to song to song, so it was kind of hard to keep up, but the entire vibe of the show was consistent as a result.
Their stage presence was very intimate, mainly because everything was front and center, even the drums. Their song “Pain” hooked me and Mike Caridi had me swooning. Especially during this track, they sound very reminiscent of Tiny Moving Parts, which in my eyes, is definitely a good thing. Each member of the band takes a turn on vocals which switches things up and adds a different element to the group; it makes things much less stagnant.
Instrumentally is where LVL UP shined the most. They improvised a ton on stage and things would go on for what felt like forever, but it was so brilliant, I could not stop gawking over it. Towards the end of their set, after they played “I Feel Extra-Natural”, things got a little weird and dissonant, but it was totally cool. I think everyone in Union Transfer can agree with me when I say LVL UP was just straight up bad-ass.
After the break, Cloud Nothings took the stage and began similar to LVL UP by just playing straight through without much crowd interaction. For me personally, I had no idea what to expect because I had not listened to much of them prior to the show. Instrumentally, they came out swinging for the fences. Cloud Nothings’ drummer, Jayson Gerycz, was so talented and so hard that it was absolutely mind blowing. His kit was extremely minimal, but he beat that thing to the ground. Their set was filled with so much angst and colliding sound from “Pattern Walks” all the way through “Enter Entirely” and the rest of the show.
Some of their songs would end blending into noise at a point, which for some listeners would not be appealing. I found it to be great. A lot of their music, at least live, sounds similar so it was hard for me to make note of real noticeable differences in some tracks, at least in composition. Regardless, they gave it their absolute all from beginning to end with force and sound.
All in all, Cloud Nothings and LVL UP provided Union Transfer with a packed show- on a Monday, nonetheless. I was sincerely impressed with their capabilities as a live band and I walked away with a great amount of respect for each band. I encourage anyone reading to check out both bands if you have never listened before, or if they come to a place near you, definitely go out and see them. You will not be disappointed- unless you don’t like good music.