While most crowds are somewhat subdued for these intimate performances, the crowd for Cage the Elephant was raucous from the get-go. Wearing a black blazer, singer Matt Schultz and the rest of the band are just able to inspire mayhem wherever they go.
Kicking things off with “Mess Around” from their latest album Tell Me I’m Pretty – released last month – Cage proved why they’re one of the top American rock ‘n’ roll bands today. Their catalog of tunes is incredibly deep and their ability to crank up the passion on stage might be unmatched.
The quietest song of the set, “Cigarette Daydreams” from their GRAMMY-nominated album Melophobia, also inspired one of the most passionate sing-alongs of the night.
The center section of the pit was wild and crazy all night. Even when the on-site host tried asking questions of Schultz and his band, the crowd couldn’t contain their excitement, and were relentlessly moshing and pogo-ing in a mini pit. That manifested itself throughout the performance and it became the first time I saw anyone stage dive and crowd surf in the tiny-fancy theater.
The breakdown of “Shake Me Down” was a highlight. As Schultz sang “Even on a cloudy day….even on a cloudy day” a crowdsurfer managed to surf his way onto the stage and then deliver a glorious stagedive back into a welcoming crowd. Schultz later said he hadn’t experienced that during one of his shows.
While the band delivered old favorites like “Come a Little Closer” and “Spiderhead,” they also fit in new tracks like “Cry Baby,” “Cold Cold Cold” and the set-ending “Teeth.”
During the Q&A session, the band talked about how the new album is produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach and how that came to be. “I had shown him some songs on a day off and he sent me this really aggressive text message saying ‘I’m producing your next record. It was awesome, it was welcomed aggression.’” Many of the new songs have the definite feel of The Black Keys, particularly “Mess Around.”
That welcomed aggression was also evident in the crowd for the entirety of the 13-song set. Anytime I’ve seen them, it’s been a consistent part of their show. People are just stoked to see them perform, and with just cause. 2016 might be the year they become one of the top four or five American rock bands. Armed with a killer new record, it wouldn’t be a shock at all.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Danielle Gornbein