Last night, Motel No. 7 went rock. The two-night music experience hosted by Jack Daniel’s in a giant Brooklyn warehouse, which was extravagantly styled to look like a motel, had kicked off on Wednesday night with a hit-studded medley from T-Pain, but Thursday’s affair was a completely different vibe. On the line-up was The Hotelier, an emo punk band from Worcester, Massachusetts, and headliners Cloud Nothings, the Cleveland-born indie-rock and punk band who released No Life For Me with fellow punk connoisseurs Wavves earlier this year.
Before the two bands made their way to the massive stage at the front of Motel No. 7, the resident DJ got the crowd going with selects by David Bowie and Tame Impala. Upstairs, in the VIP area, guests were invited to explore a variety of rooms each designed with different music genres in mind. Best of all was the death metal room, with a bed, furniture, and hired hands all dressed in black. At around 10.30 p.m. The Hotelier opened their set with “In Framing,” a pop punkish track with weighty lyrics like, On New Years you resolved to make your chaos external. Lead singer Christian Holden, sporting long hair, a white shirt, and skinny blue jeans, brought back early to mid-2000s emo vibes. The band played over ten songs, including the morbidly fascinating “Your Deep Rest” about calling in sick from a funeral, and a couple of tracks that were more headbangers—one or two even bordering on screamo territory. After The Hotelier said their goodbyes, the crowd got the chance to grab a smooth Jack Daniel’s from the bar, and play pool and pinball in Motel No. 7’s games area. Finally, headliners Cloud Nothings took the stage. The band, which consists of lead singer Dylan Baldi, bassist TJ Duke, and drummer Jayson Gerycz, opened with “Now Hear In,” a rockier but still accessible song off 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else. Baldi seems like a serious dude, and with his black beanie and thick black frames, he moved through a comprehensive set that included favorites like “Stay Useless” and “I’m Not Part of Me” without saying much in-between—but it was the music that mattered. Like contemporaries Japandroids and Wavves, Cloud Nothings are evidence of a continuing appreciation of the pop punk aesthetic, which—as seen by the massive gathering of people at Motel No. 7—has never lost momentum.