Friday, July 29, 2022

Live review: Crack Cloud bring an art-rock cavalcade to the stage of Clwb Ifor Bach

The Welsh grassroots music scene has increasingly opened up in recent times, and Clwb Ifor Bach has been spearheading the charge in bringing left-field bands with unusual sounds to the attention of the Cardiff crowds. 

There could be no more fitting stage, then, than that of Clwb for Canadian art-punk sextet Crack Cloud to make a Welsh venture as part of their UK tour, which is now in full swing.

Crack Cloud are the best kind of oddball when it comes to composition. Their tracks are immediately recognisable in the way they draw from hardcore, glam, post-punk, and classic rock, and even sometimes rap. Likewise, their stage presence is a beautiful example of the unexpected. The collective nature of the band is apparent in the way that they constantly feed off each other’s energy whilst playing to the point that one may be tempted to claim that there is no real frontman. True – drummer/vocalist Zach Choy is front and centre in every possible way as he drums a veritable heartbeat into each song. But whatever corner of the stage you’re looking at, there is something exciting happening – whether it is a guitarist momentarily leaving his instrument to play cowbell, a saxophonist taking a turn on the drums, or multiple vocalists building up to a cathartic crescendo

It might be tempting to suspect that a band fronted by its drummer may have a static stage presence, but that is not at all the case. Crack Cloud know how to amplify the atmosphere in the room and once they start going, their energetic, multi-layered tracks work for them, urging the audience to dance and leaving everyone almost breathless. The other band members also spare themselves nothing, leaving almost no pause between one track and the next. By the time it came to an end, it felt like a bubble had popped and everyone was left exhilarated. Little surprise, then, that the audience clamoured for – and ultimately got – an encore that had the pleasant feeling of not being a pre-planned charade, but a genuinely spontaneous moment of connection and enjoyment over music.

This is not the first time Crack Cloud have graced UK stages with their innovative combination of punk, art-rock, and hardcore. But with every new appearance they seem to become more daring and at the same time more relaxed with their stage presence. The result is engrossing as the music relentlessly pushes from track to track. From those who had waited a long time to see this band live to those who had walked into the room without exactly knowing what to expect, everyone in the room was stunned and buzzing thanks to both the musical prowess and charisma of the band.

The heat may have abated in Wales these days, but Crack Cloud most certainly found a way to turn the room sweaty – and with their second album announced for the early Autumn, they are most certainly not done yet…

Chiara Strazzulla


Image: Chiara Strazzulla

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