The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Majical Cloudz gets heavy in Gardner

Devon Welsh entered the crowd at Gardner to perform last Saturday night. Photo by John Brady
Devon Welsh entered the crowd at Gardner to perform last Saturday night. Photo by John Brady

Last Saturday, Nov. 8, Gardner welcomed Majical Cloudz, an indie electronic group that has garnered buzz on websites like Pitchfork for its enigmatic performances and melodious music.

The opening band saw indie DJ The-Drum play music from his “Sense Net” EP. The music was strange and teemed with disjunction, but also spun harmoniously in its vision of hybrid soundscapes. The tracks he spun were alternately despondent and lively, and could very well be the after-after party soundtrack for Ariana Grande’s spaceship in the “Break Free” video.

“By far the DJ stole the night. The mood he spun was dark but lively and I was carried to a warm place despite the frigid weather,” said Carl Sessions ’15.

Sometimes the stage of Gardner can bolster or hamper a band’s performance. At its best, it’s intimate and enthralling, at its worse it’s cramped and awkward. Numerous performers have had their shot at leaving their mark. Majical Cloudz is one of those bands that probably would have done better in a larger venue.

Although the music of Majical Cloudz is lush and layered on record, in the basement of Main, where tall dudes can easily touch the ceiling, it’s a little more awkward than it is captivating. They performed music from their 2013 release “Impersonator.”

With Devon Welsh as a captivating singer, maybe more accurately described as a spoken word poet with defiant vocal crescendos, and Matthew Otto creating subtle and nuanced instrumentals, the show did turn out to be a treat for diehard fans. When it performed its popular track, “Childhood’s End,” fans of the band audibly lost it.

A row of young women sat star-struck in the first row, eyes beaming as Welsh belted out his songs, and the lit bros carried on dutifully with their shoegazing and slow swaying. Welsh carried the song out with the vocal tenacity he was praised for, singing the poignant lyrics “Someone died / Gun-shot, right outside / Your father, he’s dead / I see him in my head / Childhood’s End / Goodbye, my holy friend / Love me, it’s a sin / Can you see me caving in?”

Songs like “Bugs Don’t Buzz” were performed with the crystal clear intent the band is known for, but the spin off into noise and distortion did not play off the way it might have in a different venue. Instead, it left a sort of open space that left a lot of room for awkward shuffling. It was not a turn up sort of show, and unfortunately it seemed like the drunk crowd that night wanted one.

Around the halfway point of the show, things got a little weird. Welsh announced that he would enter the crowd, which was fun and a nice chance to interact with the artist, but then asked the crowd to sit down while he sang to them. This sort of kumbaya-meets-Electric Forest crowd interaction was reminiscent of Dan Deacon’s visit in fall 2011. Then, Deacon asked everyone to touch the person next to them and close their eyes while reciting his mantra. This wasn’t that weird, but it was in the same realm of oddity.

This engagement quieted down some of the more rowdy members of the Saturday night crowd, and it was the highlight of the night because of this. At this point, Majical Cloudz performed its song, “Turns Turns Turns,” and Welsh finally hit his stride with his vocal delivery.

“Watch out when you’re faced by what you don’t know / Eyes turn, cheeks burn, tell me: where do I go? / I’m hoping that it feels good, it turns, it turns, it turns / Trying to breathe in, it turns, it turns, it turns,” he sang.

Welsh’s performance was appreciated by some audience members: “I thought that the show had a really wonderful vibe. His music seemed deeply personal, yet he was able to connect with the audience to create this really intimate experience. It’s a shame that a lot of people were talking over what was a beautiful show, but thankfully he was flexible and worked the crowd’s energy into his performance,” said James Marlow ’16.

Others did not appreciate the show as much.

“I have nothing against slow white boy music where the dude bemoans lost love, what I wasn’t super into about Majical Cloudz was that I just didn’t think the singer was that good at singing,” said Linnea Hurst ’15.

Maybe the show would have been better appreciated in Herrick Chapel, which would have given Majical Cloudz room to resonate the way they do so well on record. The show wasn’t a great introduction to people unfamiliar with its music, but for fans it was a knockout.

Ed. note: Carl Sessions is the Opinions Editor of The S&B.

Majical Cloudz - John Brady
Photo by John Brady
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *