Shoegaze is arguably the most invasive genre within the independent music scene. Hazy reverberation dominating the sound of post-rock, metal, and post-hardcore bands have reimagined each sonic subculture into ethereal, contemplative atmospheres. Enter Cloakroom— lush, ever-changing, and evolving slowcore influenced by a nearing post-apocalypse. Time Well, their latest release on Relapse Records, is a showcase of musical brilliance shrouded in solemness. It’s shroomgaze at its finest.
Cloakroom was conceived in Indiana by three humble craftsmen: drummer Brian Busch, bassist Bobby Markos, and vocalist/guitarist Doyle Martin. Although the band has previously toured with Russian Circles, Nothing, and Brand New, they were now headlining their tour in support of Time Well. It was a Monday night show at Mississippi Studios, and I honestly had no idea what to expect.
I couldn’t help but watch as Cloakroom prepared on stage, meticulously operating with each placement, turn, switch, and tune. The crowd gathered around while an eerie introduction crossed the threshold. A simple beat introduced us to ‘Gone But Not Entirely’, the first track to Time Well, and perfectly clear notes echoed off the walls. Pure melodies abruptly gave way to visceral distortion.
If there’s one thing I can name as a common theme within Cloakroom’s sound, it’s the disallowance of the listener to fully unwind. Soft vocalizations teased me into a calm right before gripping my attention again with roaring heaviness.
Tearing directly into ‘Seedless Star’, Bobby’s full body upheavals guided the crowd in their responding movements. It was almost unbelievable how Doyle’s seductive vocals surrounded me. A calloused siren, he started into ‘Big World’:
“Take me outside show me what I’ve been missing
People never fail to entertain my sour disposition”
An older favorite from their LP Infinity, ‘Bending’, crept up on me like an old friend. Desperately seeking release through head banging or a moshpit, I allowed myself a nod while the song died down and faded into a slower, doom tribute. The energetic ‘Deep Sea Station’ ruptured into the small music hall.
“…Drunk off the taste of the blood of the Earth”
‘Concrete Gallery’, a provocative melody from Time Well, accompanied feelings of dread that the end of Cloakroom’s set had become a reality.
Doyle stopped before playing the last few songs to thank the attending crowd, mentioning that a recent hardship had occurred on tour.
Just as abruptly as they started, house lights flashed back on. The terse performance repeatedly rang in my ears as I reluctantly stepped out into the cold evening bite craving more.
The opener, Møtrik, manually pumping the room full of fog.
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