Cloud Nothings Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 6

Cloud Nothings Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 6
Photo: Stephen McGill
For a band that began life as a MySpace page, Dylan Baldi has put a lot of effort into turning Cloud Nothings into one of indie rock's most formidable acts. The raw energy of their performances has seeped into their recordings, particularly the Cleveland band's just-released album Here and Nowhere Else, which was recorded mostly live off the floor.

Unsurprisingly those songs hue closest to their recorded versions when played live, with older tracks like "Stay Useless" getting a sonic makeover (or strip-down) to match their lean ferocity. New album highlights "Now Here In" and "Quieter Today" set the tone at the trio's recent Toronto stop, where Baldi said little to the crowd as he and bass player TJ Duke and drummer Jason Gerycz worked through tracks from the band's three LPs.

Keeping the hood on his zip-up on for the entirety of their hour-long set, Baldi's refusal to acknowledge the crowd between songs ratcheted up the tension. The band matched it by playing harder, making moments like the tempo change in "Psychic Trauma" feel that much more jarring.

It also exposed Baldi and co. as far more talented players than they often get credit for. No one is going to accuse Cloud Nothings of being technical players, but beneath the sheen of sloppiness there's a precision to their music that really comes through on stage.

The set hits its peak with "Pattern Walks," on which the trio were able to really stretch out before reining things back in for "I'm Not Part of Me." They skipped the break before their encore, Baldi breaking his silence to apologize for making the crowd wait after their openers failed to show.

The lack of a break simply added to the force of their final tracks, an epic version of "No Future/No Past," and "Wasted Days," perhaps the perfect distillation of the band's blend of aggression and hooks. "I thought I would be more than this," Baldi wailed, but it's hard to imagine a more fitting and well-executed outlet for his frustrations.