In the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter sits the House of Blues, an 800+ capacity venue, the walls of which are covered with nearly 300 pieces of folk art. Directly above the stage, is an oval emblem of Bo Diddley dressed in glorious white, standing as an angel above a sanctuary under the caption, ‘Who do you love?’ This Friday night crowd loves Cage the Elephant. The Nashville Indie group is currently touring the U.S. in support of their 2009 sophomore release, ‘Thank You, Happy Birthday.’
Opening for Cage is a group of fellow Tennessee rockers named Bad Cop, featuring drums along with three and four guitars to produce raging spacedelic kick-ass rock and roll. The frontman stares maniacally into the crowd as if to indicate that it is simply a matter of time before subliminal messages achieve massive mind control. Perhaps someday. But this night’s crowd belongs to vocalist Matt Shultz and the band, comprised of guitarists Brad Shultz and Lincoln Parish, along with bassist Danial Tichenor and drummer Jared Champion.
Emerging from a smoke cloud, Shultz appears as a Cobain reincarnatioln: gangly body adorned with shoulder length sandy blonde hair. Just seconds into the first track, he stretches himself into the crowd which gladly carries him along for awhile. It is instant intimacy – forget the introductions and small talk; we all know why we’re here so let’s get on with it.
“2024” is fun but “Aberdeen” is familiar and gets the crowd singing. Cage goes into some bluesy tracks, then it’s back to fun again with the funk punk outcries of “Around My Head.” A waltzing moment is then granted, just before the crowd is incited into an all-out mosh in “Back Against the Wall.” The chorus resonates, “You got me where you want me…” and everyone is restless in reliving the mounting urge to escape.
Cage the Elephant relaxes the tension with a pretty yet angsty song, followed by a dark sleepy number, and then something sentimental. The smoke machine puts out again as driving guitars animate Shultz. He is undeniably bound to every revving strum and crashing beat, like a marionette to the music. The crowd is eager to get animated, and at the opening riff of “Shake Me Down,” the vibes noticeably run through the fans as well.
Another smoke cloud ensues, and Shultz is crowd surfing once again, this time singing the lines of “Sabertooth Tiger” as he floats along. He pauses a moment, crouches, and then stands atop the crowd, silently taking it all in before falling onto another bed of hands awaiting him. Shultz takes the stage again, the song ends, and when the smoke clears, Cage the Elephant is gone.
The crowd cheers and chants. A few cry out for an unplayed single. Sure enough, the band retakes the stage and gives the fans what they’re hoping for: the first hit off Cage’s 2009 self-titled debut, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” It’s fun and funky with lyrics that people want to sing even if they can’t honestly relate.
In any case, the fans have all forgotten about their pressing bills to pay, and all the mouths that need feeding are snoring soundly in their beds. Cage the Elephant has granted the crowd a share in the band’s highly contagious energy and fortunately the night is still young.
In One Ear
Tiny Little Robots
Around My Head
Back Against the Wall
Back Stabbin’ Betty
Shake Me Down
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked