A Nite with Majical Cloudz at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Majical_Cloudz_at_FFF_Nites_2014-6I love Majical Cloudz for all the reasons I’ve outlined before. And the band is just getting better. Fresh off a string of tour dates with Lorde, the duo appeared more confident than ever at their FFF Nites show at Cheer Up Charlies’ on the first evening of the fest. I bugged my friend Bob about coming all the way from Houston enough that he finally caved it. Expectations are high when you coax a person into such a trip, so I was a little anxious about how much he would enjoy the show. We got to Cheer Up before the band’s set and hung around near the front of the stage as the crew set up.

Majical_Cloudz_at_FFF_Nites_2014-16Others began to stake out spots up front. The crowd was perfect–full and enthusiastic, but not pushy or annoyingly overcrowded. Conversations sparked about the band’s previous shows and the excitement was palpable. Just about the time the band was set to begin their set, the sound of cacophonous drums begin to drift over from the Mohawk’s outside stage. Majical Cloudz frontman Devon Welsh handled it with poise, joking about incorporated that music into their own set. Majical Cloudz songs are built on ultra-minimalist arrangements and are filled with lingering silences, making the noise drift all the more noticeable. In those moments of silence, Welsh just smiled and air-drummed, joking that he had a remote control and was running the show. I kept glancing at Bob to see how he was enjoying this. He wore a grin across his face, and I began to relax.

Majical_Cloudz_at_FFF_Nites_2014-8I’ve seen Majical Cloudz three times, and the Canadian duo brought far more energy than ever before this past Friday night. Perhaps the silliness of the air-drumming fueled the onstage activity, but Welsh’s stage demeanor has evolved from stark, almost motionless bowing to staggering, shivering, and flailing. In the interest of diversifying the show for those who had just seen the band a few hours earlier at FFF, the duo moved songs around in the setlist. For an incredible version of “Childhood’s End,” Welsh descended down into the crowd to make physical contact and sing with fans. Welsh also handed out the mic to three different fans to let them sing the repetitive lines of “Silver Rings.” Live, sound systems allow Majical Cloudz’ beats to hit far more powerfully and when coupled with Welsh’s electric stage presence, the band is undeniably convincing.

Majical_Cloudz_at_FFF_Nites_2014-10During the final song, “Bugs Don’t Buzz,” I glanced over to see Bob apparently near tears. When the set ended, Bob told me, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more valued as a member of an audience.” Majical Cloudz are truly a special band. One of the most artistically interesting and lyrically sincere bands creating music today, and their show at Cheer Up Charlie’s for FFF Nites would remain my favorite part of the entire weekend.

All photographs © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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