Please excuse the lights shooting out of my head
I keep them in a cage but they come out when they see a friend
You must be a friend
You’re never really gonna have control of it all
So you best get cool with your chips are gonna fall
We are the sun
And mother’s milk
And cuss words
Hey! Cuss words is what I’m GOOD at!
And someone tell the devil we don’t need no hell
We’re all pretty good at beating up ourselves
Rory and I went to see the last Cloud Cult show in Milwaukee, at the same location. They love Turner Hall, and will pass Milwaukee if they can’t play there.
Last night was the admitted more-or-less first night in the tour supporting a new album, The Seeker. It has a movie that goes with it, with no dialogue. Craig admitted that this was the first time they had been out on tour in some time without kids. All part of the unaffected, open attitude of the band; not only do they wear their hearts on their sleeves, they will come out and caress your heart as well.
And they did. Of course, they played a lot of the new album, which is quieter and more introspective, as I guess is unsurprising in musicians entering middle age. But one of the things I noticed most of all, is that the band is a true collaborative.
The first time I saw Cloud cult was in a small dive music club, and I did not know any of their music. At the time, Craig Minowa had recorded all of his music by himself for the most part (especially during the crazy days) and he spent his time surrounded by effects pedals, keyboards and a few percussive things.
And we grew up believing good wins over bad
So you gave away your heart, but the wolves attacked
But then a bigger heart grew back
Please excuse the words coming out of my mouth
I’m a happy man but there’s some things I need to get out
I need to get out
At the time I first saw them, what blew me away is the way they took a simple song, busted down into noise and chaos, and then built it back into a goddam song. It was beautiful, like Sonic Youth blended with Big Star.
And the last time we saw them, they broke the show down into acoustic and electric sets, and it was pretty much one of the best live shows I have ever seen. The band makes complex, exultant music that expresses inner life and the joys of living, and makes it loud when it needs to be. And they get into amazing side-musical notes, that circle around. Then, everybody on stage plays kettle drums.
Meanwhile, there are two artists on stage who use the music to compel them to create complete paintings during the course of the show (which they then auction off after the show); although sometimes the artists come out to sing or play kettle drums.
The entire spectacle is financed using solar power credits, so a CC tour is carbon neutral. Craig and Connie (one of the artists, did I mention that she and Craig are adorably in love, even after the tragedy in their life?) moved to Minocqua, Wisconsin not too long ago, where they live as sustainably as possible on a small farm and I feel especially warm about that as Minocqua is where my mother was born.
Craig Minowa sings with a quavery tenor, and plays guitar fiercely. These days, he has relegated all the other instruments to several other band members, and spends minimal time on the floor, picking guitar processes off a Macbook. There are keyboards, and horns, and viola and violin, and everybody sings along. Everybody sings along.
In some ways, it’s hippy-triply, but that’s never what I got from it. I got the intense explorations of the guy writing the lyrics, looking for explanations for why his young son had to die with no reason. In any case, after that first long-ago show in a dive bar, they became one of my top bands to see live; Good Friend Rory, who has seen THOUSANDS of shows, more than me even, says the last one is in his top ten.
At the end of the night, they played some of my most favorite songs but not nearly ALL of them, and they made mad, improbable series of sounds that tickled my music bone, and I was there with two of my very best friends. After nearly dying last year, this is another win….
Also, there’s a song that they sing, that has very few lyrics but since The Event, the resonate HARD AS FUCK in me:
I love my mother
I love my father
When it’s my time to go
I need you to know
I love you all