What. The. F**k. I’ve seen a lot of live performances, but nothing prepared me for this. What’s that over there? Oh, a mosh pit? Did something just get chucked into orbit across the venue by Matt? There’s no way he’s going to jump into the….oh, yes. Yes he just did. Is that the lead guitarist, Nick, shredding an epic riff on top of a sub? I didn’t know bands still did this! Well, my fellow readers, welcome to the mysterious, awe-inspiring world of Cage The Elephant.

Night three of their Southern California tour was coming to an end in the Venetian-styled Tower Theater last Friday. As eager, rock-patrons funneled into the carpeted, dimly lit halls, the vibe made my spine tingle with anticipation. Maneuvering through a variety of age groups ranging from, high-school dates, to the old couple behind who kept yelling for me to stop jumping, the gang was all there. Amongst the blue hazed lighting, the Skinny-jeaned, long-haired, VANS-wearing deities of music greeted their court; their field; their courtroom. Unfortunately, not all went as smooth as their entrance; Brad Shultz’s guitar’s sound was not at it’s desired sound. While someone fiddled with the guitar, the crowd got more and more anxious. The room was filled with a heavy-tense fog as we awaited the first song…. Finally, Dave got a hold his freshly-tuned guitar, and laid down a heavy strum that echoed the halls with sweet sweet ear-pleasantry.

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As the band brushed off their rocky start, the lead singer, Matt, proclaimed “Now the spirit of rock and roll has been revived” and they immediately dove straight into “Spiderhead.” The spirit and energy of this band was started abruptly as the flick of a light switch; or as Drake would say “zero to a hundred real quick.” As quickly as the song had started, it was already over, and the flow of the night had steadied into a consistent constant of well-tuned jammage. With one after another: “In One Ear” to “Aberdeen” to “Take It or Leave It”, it was non-stop intensity from the beginning. After a high tempo set list so far, Matt decided to take a quick pause in between songs. With a gloomy blue-tinged backdrop behind him, he rounded up his audience for a little story time. A feeling of wonder and childlike admiration swept the venue as we huddled a little closer to one another, and turned our gaze towards him. He praised the crowd for it’s enthusiasm, and mentioned how this show had made the “very traumatic experience” of Bambi go away. With a couple cheers and chuckles there, the tone of the show slowed down a bit as Cage The Elephant played one of their slower songs: “Cigarette Daydreams”. After that tiny break, the rest of the show was back to its ferocious energetic approach with their popular “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”. As Matt stage dived for possibly the 6th time (I lost count after 4), the crowd swarmed towards the lead singer, hoping to get a touch of performing brilliance. The rest of the show continued with Matt covering every inch of the stage…and crowd…..with wild, animated movements that resembled a young Bruce Springsteen.

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Unfortunately, the sound in this venue was a tad scratchy when it came to the guitar, but in hindsight, it did quite an impressive job considering the place. Lighting was on point, and actually surprised me in terms of functionality and variety.  Alas, the last song was played, but as we all know, there was a happily welcomed encore… I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lively last song.. With what you thought would be a drained group of individuals, they surprised us all with the most incredible performance of “Shake Me Down.” It seemed as if life had slowed down for a second to make this moment last longer. The floor shook from the hundreds of feet. Hands raised towards the heavens as if they were magnetic to the ceiling. Voices were lost as they screamed the lyrics with church-choir like passion. And the lead singer of Cage the Elephant dived one last time into the middle of his people.  As he literally crawled over the top of them like a prone soldier, reaching out to every hand that was available, he stopped for a second; he started to rise. Like a Messiah, he ascended above his subjects to stand atop, and reach out a hand; for what?  We’ll never know? For praise? For thanks? For the sake of epic poses? All I know is that THIS is how you perform. THIS is grace, and ingenuity, and sprite, and beauty. THIS is the gorgeous, shining example of how to play music, and play it well. Bravo Cage The Elephant. Bravo.

 

Photo Credit: Adam Maresca