Ultimately as a performer, success comes down to talent. But having a gimmick sure helps to make one talented musician or artist stand out amongst the thousands of others.
In this regard, Minneapolis based band Cloud Cult is good to go on their road towards success.
The seven-member band, who headlined at the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night, includes not only an electric cello and violin, electric guitars and drums, but also two live artists. As in, visual artists: painters. It doesn't even seem appropriate to diminish this aesthetic element by deeming it a "gimmick". But in a sense, that's exactly what it is, since it is a trait entirely unique to this group of talented musicians- who could stand out on the radar for that fact alone.
Not to mention the versatility of their sound, as the songs grow from simple lines of gentle strings (beautifully drawn from the violin by Shannon Frid) or acoustic story-telling (by lead singer and guitarist Craig Minowa) to all-out psychedelic jamming or syncopated rock. Or the trombone might come out, and everything takes a turn for something new and different altogether.
The energy onstage is contained but not stifled; the musicians are comfortable working the room and having a dialogue with the ecstatic, overpacked crowd. They put on no airs of celebrity or rockstar: they just show up to play really awesome music. Minowa humbly affirmed that "it's not a given that people are going to come out to hear us play. We know that there are tons of options for music here and we're really grateful that you all chose us".
It would be a shame not to, seeing as the band tours very rarely (and when else is there the opportunity to bid on an iconic painting done onstage by band members?). Their CDs will have to suffice in the meantime; to quench the appetite of all the die-hard fans who are, admittedly, in on some kind of secret. Although, once you've headlined at the Bowery Ballroom, news will get out pretty quickly.