There’s a particularly strange mood that accompanies the transition from summer to autumn. Life becomes paradoxically darker and heavier yet beautiful. Crisp nights come earlier and earlier along with an indescribable feeling that takes us to a more pensive place. Cloakroom also happens to be highly adept at setting a tone for a thoughtful experience that is simultaneously heavy and gorgeous. Last Friday, their unique blend of sludgy jams and reflective melodies set the stage for an incredible album release show at Schubas for their second record, Time Well.
The unseasonably cool night kicked off with Chicago’s own Sweet Cobra who had an incredibly raw and intense set. The Life and Times followed with a matching energy that made the night feel even more electric – a perfect segue into the highly-anticipated performance by Cloakroom.
The three Northwest Indiana natives took the stage setting off a chain reaction of applause from the crowd. The audience was undeniably a passionate bunch and fully engaged with the evening’s moody vibe. I was also excited to finally see Cloakroom live and had a sense of pride having also grown up in The Region. Perhaps it was my hometown bias, but there seemed to be an especially strong sense of support and camaraderie amongst everyone there night that came out to celebrate the band’s latest album.
It’s been two years since Cloakroom released Further Out, their debut full length album released on Relapse Records. Fortunately, Time Well deftly avoids the sophomore slump by building on their established dynamics while delving into a new realm. Although the trio opened with the first track of the new album, “Gone but Not Entirely”, the setlist included a mix of old material as well.
“This is for all you old Cloakheads out there,” Doyle Martin called out from the shadows before gently easing into the intro of “Bending” just before the midway point of the show. The crowd responded with fist-pumps and eager cheers, confirming that Cloakroom’s fan base is a loyal one.
That loyalty is rooted in the beauty of the simplicity of ordinary people. With Time Well, each song is a reflection of three men who are merely sifting through a wide range of emotions that we can all resonate with. Cloakroom’s collective talent may be undeniable, but their approach is honest and down to earth which made the listening experience easy and natural.
After the onslaught of powerful vocals, crushing bass lines, and solid drumming, they closed out the evening on a more mellow and introspective note with “The Passenger”. The crowd swayed in time with the Martin’s fuzzy, distorted guitar while empty beer glasses lined the ledge by the window. In perfect harmony, one of the glasses fell to the ground, yet everyone in the vicinity remained unaffected and remained entranced by the final song.
It was another testament to Cloakroom’s ability to create a magical mood by combining heavy riffs with delicate melodies that keep you locked in. It was a mood that never let up and permeated throughout the venue until the house lights came back on, echoing a motif of transition and the delicate act of balancing opposing forces.