June 20th 2014
If you’ve ever dreamed about crowd surfing at a steamy, sold out, high-energy rock show, then your dreams would have come true at the Fillmore Charlotte Thursday night with Cage the Elephant.
The night opened with New York based Bear Hands playing to an almost filled room.Starting off with songs on the mellower side and then ramping up the energy as the venue became completely packed out by the end of their set. This was one of those shows where everyone wanted to hold their standing spot and almost no one slipped out for a smoke during the set break leading to Cage the Elephant’s emergence.
Cage is an eclectic rock band from Kentucky formed in 2006 that got picked up by Relentless Records after playing South By Southwest in 2007, and hit the ground running from then. Touring internationally, living in England for a short time, recording, and continuously gaining fans for their Pixies inspired tunes. Shortly after releasing their most recent album, guitarist Lincoln Parish peacefully left the band to pursue producing dreams. The show goes on with new guitarist Nick Bockrath who joined the band in November of 2013, and has been holding his own with the boys on tour for almost a year now.
The crowd was relentless from the get go. After twenty minutes of excitement build-up accompanied by chanting and screaming, lead singer Matt Shultz finally comes to the stage in all white looking a little bit like Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange. The house lights went off, the spots came on, and Cage drilled straight into “Spiderhead”—a fitting start with it being the first track on their most recent album Melophobia. Audience members were immediately jumping and singing, or rather screaming the words, especially when “In One Ear” from their 2008 debut self-titled followed. There were about eight crowd surfers just in the first two songs.
In the first ten minutes of the concert, those songs back to back demonstrated just how far the band has come stylistically from that debut album. From their young sort of in-your-face punk influenced indie rock sounds, to a more musically intelligent layering of rhythm, catchy melodies, swirling synth and guitar, and slightly unhinged vocals and lyrics. The way they played “In One Ear” during the show was even different than they had played it in the past, showing continuous progression. Nick Bockrath’s solo during “Back Against the Wall” was also notable. It will be interesting to see what the new guitarist will bring to the table writing wise on their next album. The room heated up quickly. Between Matt Shultz practically convulsing on stage, Brad Shultz and Nick Bockrath’s occasional screaming solos, and the driving rhythms of Daniel Tichenor’s bass and Jared Champion’s kit, it was a real panty-dropping rock show, literally. Just stepping into the front door of the Fillmore, you could feel the steam radiating from the crowd about twenty feet in front of you. Several people in the crowd were partially disrobing. Taking his shirt off after about the third song, Matt Shultz made comments to the audience about feeling the steam and sweat on stage, sharing the same sweat steam, and “breathing each other in”. Talk about visceral. He even took it to the overtly physical level when he dove into the crowd several times, shirtless and sweaty.
All the members of Cage kept the energy coming throughout the show, doing well to keep the tunes fresh instead of stale, phoned-in performances that sounds just like the album. Even the dreamier songs like “Telescope” were more amped up than the recordings and were rewarded with more crowd surfing regardless of it was a slow jam or not. They played songs off of all three albums successfully peppering in the golden oldies, for instance sandwiching “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” between “Come A Little Closer” and “Telescope”, which by the way had a record for the night of fifteen crowd surfers during one song. With a grand ending total of about 56 crowd surfers, the concert ended just as well as it began with the final encore complete with bassist Daniel Tichenor smoking a cigarette on stage, Nick Bockrath and Brad Shultz dishing out some gnarly feedback, and Matt Shultz standing on the shoulders of some fans in the middle of the crowd crooning his last few cries of “Don’t let me down”.
In One Ear
Take It or Leave It
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
It’s Just Forever
Come a Little Closer
Shake Me Down
Listen to Melophia by Cage The Elephant