Five stage dives wasn’t quite enough for Cage The Elephant singer Matt Shultz.
After closing out a ripping version of “Sabertooth Tiger” while being held up by the sold out crowd (see image above), nailing notes and dripping sweat, Shultz dove in to the crowd one last time and rode a wave of frenzied fans to the edge of the venue. When it seemed like he had run out of real estate on the left side of the Observatory, he had only one direction to go: up. So the skinny singer shimmied his way up a pillar like Spider-Man and arrived at the venue’s balcony where he high-fived fans and posed for pics.
If this was a movie or being filmed for a live concert DVD, Shultz might have taken the time to proclaim himself a “Golden God” and jumped off the balcony, but sober heads prevailed, he walked down the ramp like a common man, dove in to the crowd one more time to get back to the stage to reach the rest of his band and disappeared in to the night as the house lights faded on.
Only then was the set over and fans finally headed toward the exit after having just seen one of the best live acts in rock today.
From the second Cage the Elephant took the stage, neither the band or the crowd stopped bouncing.
Driving opener “Cry Baby” got the crowd going early, with welcoming screams almost drowning out the first notes rung out by guitarist Brad Shultz. Singer Matt Shultz slithered across the stage with shoeless Mick Jagger swagger, moving to “In One Ear” and “Spiderhead”, older cuts that the crowd was more than willing to sing along with the garage rockers word for word. Even on a more subdued number like “Take It Or Leave It” Shultz maximized the high energy moments by vaulting off his microphone to get a little extra air on his ninja kicks, all the while still singing.
The band took some time to address the crowd after “Aberdeen”, acknowledging the loss of a major inspiration to the band, “David Bowie is a huge inspiration to us and we would like to take this moment and this night to celebrate life,” said Shultz before heading in to a heartfelt version of “Too Late To Say Goodbye.”
The set drew heavily from the Cage’s two most recent albums, late 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty and 2013’s Melophobia, and their patented blend of melodic garage rock with psychedelic accents they have perfected on those releases was on full display. The band barely took a second to switch guitars out before moving right along to the next song, one moment Shultz staring up in to the rafters to hit his falsetto on “Sweetie Little Jean” the next he was calling his stage dive shot ala Babe Ruth, jumping in to his approving fans while belting out the frantic lines of “Mess Around”.
By the time “Come A Little Closer” came around, the crowd’s collective voice and energy had melded with Shultz and the rest of Cage The Elephant. The floor filled with crowd surfers, the band’s singer included, each feeding off each other in a beautiful, raw mix of noise, buzzing reverb and sweat.
Despite having found radio success, Cage The Elephant are still committed to a live show full of wildness and debauchery in the claustrophobic sweatboxes that many similar bands don’t ever return to. Now THAT is punk rock.
In One Ear
Take It Or Leave It
Too Late To Say Goodbye
Cold Cold Cold
Sweetie Little Jean
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked
Portuguese Knife Fight
Back Against The Wall
It’s Just Forever
Come A Little Closer
Shake Me Down