Hardcore punk began surfacing in the late 1970s as a social and political commentary on a straight edge society. It’s characterized by brief, intense cathartic purges that come at you hard and fast, and was popularized—at least in various underground scenes—by bands like Black Flag. Post-hardcore is a departure from its namesake, as it is more dynamic and more experimental than its predecessor. Fugazi and hardcore bands looking to expand their sound helped pioneer the genre’s evolution, which has resulted in slightly more conventional song construction, the borrowing of other genres' stylistic traits and a continual embrace of the DIY mentality that has always been cultivated by punk.
Post-hardcore is perhaps most renowned for having birthed the notorious “emo” and “screamo” subgenres that evolved throughout the 1990s and became fully manifested—i.e. gained mainstream popularity—in the 2000s by bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. But whereas many of these bands used the superficial remnants of hardcore—e.g. straightforward melodies and harmonies that lacked the raw energy of early hardcore punk (screaming does not unconditionally equate to energy)—Cloud Nothings adopted the hard and fast while veering in the direction of post-grunge, melding the hallmarks of indie rock with the frenetic intensity of hardcore. The band showed that they’ve mastered that stylistic confluence on Tuesday night at Brighton Music Hall.
The Cleveland trio came out swinging, smashing through the kick drum less than five minutes into the show. The break surprised no one, because when you bang at such blistering tempos (which are perfectly dissected into its rhythmic partitions by drummer Jayson Gerycz, it should be added), the occasional hole is inevitable. The sold-out crowd showed its appreciation for the vehement mania by clearing space for a mosh-pit in the center of the room, and this observer could not help but participate.
The post-grunge/post-hardcore music of Cloud Nothings inspires a ferociously intimate communality amongst its fans. Despite the ostensible violence of moshing and thrashing about, there is a primal connectivity in the sweaty roiling of the crowd, and physical harm is most certainly not the intent of the pusher; it’s rather the opportunity to temporarily dissolve the corporeal etiquette of civilized adulthood. We danced and shoved to a barrage of songs that included “Now Hear In,” “Stay Useless,” and “I’m Not Part of Me”—the single from the band’s most recent album, Here and Nowhere Else. Cloud Nothings played for a little over an hour, and that’s about all you need—the music fills you up quickly and effectively.
After the show, the sweaty mass of attendees emerged from BMH and dissipated into a hundred little drips in the night. Fans left with exhausted smiles on their faces after reciprocating the solid, emotive performance of Cloud Nothings with an equally cathartic showing on the floor. It's a visceral experience in which anyone can partake if they so desire, and that's pretty much the point.