Fly high Duluth with Number One Common and Cloud Cult

Fly high Duluth with Number One Common and Cloud Cult

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Duluth has a very healthy nightlife, and unlike Minneapolis you don’t have to worry about being randomly shot. Last Friday was a great example of what is available around town on any given weekend. We decided to check out two shows, and two very different crowds.

The first stop was at Pizza Luce for Cloud Cult’s return to Duluth . The band always keeps improving and their stage show is riveting. Their set had two painters brushing to the beat, two video projection screens, and more of a rock feel than the last time they came through town. About six months ago Cloud Cult played Luce’ to release their latest album, Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus. This time the band was fresh off a nationwide tour, which gave for a different feel of the show. Where last time the acoustics were ear searingly loud, this time it was just right. Also at their last gig the band had one painter and a rough feel, but this time it was much more polished. The music was still Craig Minowa’s creepy techno-eco-emo-rock, but this time there was less organ and more guitar. The venue was full, but very few were dancing. Most audience members just stood and watched the entertainment buffet. It was nice to have something so unique visually to watch while matching the sounds of the band. Their set was fairly short and ended around 12:30, so there was a lot left to the night.

After hugging the proverbial music tree we decided to chop it down to the likes of Number One Common at Norm’s Beer & Brats across the border. This is like following up an artsy indie space film with a bloody, violent horror flick. While Cloud Cult’s audience was colorful, NOC’s was all in black.

From the moment the door opened to Norm’s there was this onslaught of crashing rock that exploded into your ears. The band was tough looking, and the songs were even edgier. With titles dealing with suicide, horror, and other shady vices it was obvious that the night had taken a turn down a dark road. The audience clung to the stage and there was even a gentleman with long hair and a black leather jacket head banging and letting his hair whip to the beat. It was like something out of a late 1980s music video visually with some great newer sounding hard rock. To say that Number One Common plays hard rock though is like saying that Superman was just a strong guy. N.O.C. beats your ears into submission and whips your mind into a mesmerizing haze of black magic. At first the music intimidates your ears, but after a few songs it puts the listener into a heavy metal trance.

Number One Common began in 1997 with Cory J. (Vocals) and Dan H. (Drums) before being joined by Mikey T. (Guitar), Jeremy M (Guitar), and Jesse J. (Bass) later. They have played around the Northland for years, but have a nice following. There were moments when Mikey T. was playing guitar and being attacked by a toy shark from an audience member. The shark was aiming low, but Mikey’s guitar playing aimed very high. He rode the strings when playing solos, and the changes the band had in some newer tunes were infectious. Cory J. announced that the band had drunk a bit throughout the night and then went into some songs they had just written. They were at times scary on stage, but Mikey T. seemed to have a lightness that the audience gravitated to. When the bar was closing and everyone was being yelled at to leave (One side tangent: it was technically 1 am, but the bartender turned the clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings and then added 15 minutes extra for bar time) it was a slow shuffle out. The bartender jumped over the bar to get the audience and band moving along, but there was the usual dissention. It is never unusual for a bartender to complain of how long the band takes to pack up their equipment, and those in the audience who like to straggle and stagger out.

Speaking of equipment, it must be noted that Dan H. bangs on the drums so hard that one of his cymbals was bent every which way. He had two pedals for the kick and it could make your chest move when he slammed them along to the music. Dressed in a baseball cap he looked very normal, but if you ever have met drummers you know they are always the craziest guy in the band. Bonham, Moon, that dude from Def Leopard who lost his arm; looks are deceiving. The band as a whole makes you feel the music though as it crushes your chest and slaps you around. They are great hard rockers with definite stage presence. N.O.C. play again at Norm’s May 6th with

Valhalla Drive

and Drift Effect. Wear black and keep away from the sharks!