This weekend I took a ten hour round trip to see the very first Cloudkicker live show in Columbus, OH (also featuring Intronaut, who also played double duty in Cloudkicker) and let me tell you, the Cloudkicker hype is very real and it was an unbelievable show. I’m still not entirely sure it even happened, and I have a signed vinyl copy of Beacons — my favorite instrumental record ever — and a limited edition tour poster to prove it.
I understand that I am one of the fortunate few who will be able to catch the first and potentially only proper Cloudkicker tour, so let me try to set the scene as best as I can in the amount of time I have.
The Ace of Cups gig at Columbus, Ohio was meant to be the hometown warm up show of the “Nautkicker” tour, and was sans headliners Tesseract. As such, the show was unique for most metal gigs in that music was done and over by 9 PM, with the bands playing the appropriate pre-determined set times — 45 minutes each! — as if they were still leaving room for a headliner. Instead, the time after Intronaut’s set featured Ben Sharp sitting on drummer Danny Walker’s drum throne at the front of the stage, meeting and greeting fans.
Prior to the informal and loose meet and greet though, Ben Sharp and Intronaut delivered a set of Cloudkicker tracks that absolutely blew me away. The tiny bar venue was packed with fans as Ben walked on stage, took out his wallet, and dug out a guitar pick. Classic. Behind him, a projector displayed visions of Earth in space, panning over continents and swinging by satellites as the Sun emerges on the horizon. A fitting backdrop for such dynamic music, but something that counter-balances Ben’s grounded persona.
The setlist included the following tracks:
‘The warmth of the daytime…’ from Subsume
‘A weather front…‘ from Subsume
‘Here, wait a minute! Damn it!’ from Beacons
‘We’re goin’ in, We’re going down.’ from Beacons
‘Seriosity‘ from The Map Is Not The Territory
‘Dysphoria‘ from The Discovery
‘You could laugh forever…’ from Subsume
‘Push it way up!’ from Beacons
Multi-cam footage from a majority of their set was captured below.
The set saw guitar duo Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick playing much of the heavier technical riffs with Ben Sharp playing the moody layered sections, which often featured a loop pedal, an e-bow, and — in the case of ‘Push it way up!’ — a slide. Don’t mistake this division of duties as Ben keeping it simple; he performed a fair share of fast licks and heavy riffs. The triple guitar setup adequately brought the massive Cloudkicker sound to life, and that’s not even to mention the impeccably tight rhythm section of Joe Lester and Danny Walker.
Ben addressed the audience late in the set, expressing his gratitude for not only the crowd, but for Intronaut. “Without them, this wouldn’t have happened,” was paired with smiles from the entirety of Intronaut, who were shaking their heads and pointing at Ben. It really is a miracle this tour was able to come together, and all parties involved should be proud. Sacha Dunable seemed pleased, sporting an ear-to-ear grin for most of the set.
The crowd screamed for more, but Ben was quick to let everyone down easy, saying, “sorry, that’s all we know how to play.”
Here are the remaining dates. Skip school. Use some of those sick days you’ve been saving. Do whatever you can and see this tour, as it may never happen again.
4/1 Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn
4/2 Jacksonville, FL @ Roc Bar
4/3 Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
4/5 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
4/6 Austin, TX @ Dirty Dog
4/7 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
4/10 Tempe, AZ @ Club Red
4/11 West Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy
4/12 Santa Ana, CA @ The Constellation Room
4/13 San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
4/14 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
4/15 Seattle, WA @ Studio 7
4/16 Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
4/18 Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
4/19 Calgary, AB @ Republik
4/22 Billings, MT @ The Railyard
4/23 Denver, CO @ The Marquis Theatre
4/25 Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theater
4/26 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
4/27 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
4/28 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
4/29 Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary
4/30 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
And if you absolutely can’t make it, live vicariously through the live videos that are sure to emerge. In the mean time, watch Danny Walker and the rest of “Nautkicker” rehearsing ‘We’re goin’ in. We’re going down.’