Cage the Elephant House of Blues April 25, 2014
"I want to thank you all for the awesome night we're about to have," said vocalist Matthew Shultz, one song into Cage the Elephant's set at House of Blues Friday night. "And I also want to thank you for the giant mosh pit that's about to form right here."
He then waved his fingers over the entire crowd downstairs, where fans began pushing past one another to get in or out out of the way. While everyone was still fighting for real estate, the band began to play "In One Ear," the second single from their 2009 self-titled debut album.
The crowd let out a deafening roar before losing its collective shit for four minutes, setting the tone for an evening of sweaty tomfoolery.
Sauntering about the stage in a navy blue button-down and white pants, his hair flopping back and forth, Shultz looked like a respectable member of society in between songs. That is, until the music got started and he began writhing about as if possessed by it. He was eventually convulsing so hard that I half expected him to pass out from exhaustion. But he didn't drop to the ground; instead, his stamina outlasted even the crowd's.
"Talk about power of suggestion," he said after the song was over and the crowd had calmed. "You guys are overachievers."
Cage the Elephant was only just getting started. For another hour, the Kentucky-born quartet looked on top of both the world and their game, transitioning into another radio hit, "Aberdeen," before progressing through the rest of their 14-song set list.
Despite maturing in their personal lives, with most members of the group having married and fathered children by now, Cage the Elephant's live performance Friday night was as untamed and wild as it's ever been. In fact, it may have gotten better with age as the group hones its craft. The four-piece possessed a tenacity and enthusiasm that could only be a result of a genuine passion for their art.
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Ending the evening with "Sabertooth Tiger," the most aggressive track off their sophomore album Thank You Happy Birthday, Shultz threw himself into the crowd, where fans hoisted him upright before he dove backward again and was surfed back the stage atop everyone's hands.
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"You guys are making me genuinely happy," Shultz said. "This is one if those shows that makes me think, 'Wow...this is my life.'"
And Friday night, it was our lives too.
Personal Bias: This was my third time seeing Cage the Elephant. The first time was at Austin City Limits when they were just getting started, then last year at Buzzfest. Friday night, however, was by far their best and most intimate performance I've seen so far.
Overheard In the Crowd: "That was not the Cage the Elephant we saw in Atlanta," said a young man walking out of HOB. "That was a sober Cage the Elephant."
Spiderhead In One Ear Aberdeen Back Against the Wall Take It Or Leave It Cigarette Daydreams Ain't No Rest for the Wicked Halo Telescope It's Just Forever Teeth Come a Little Closer
Shake Me Down Sabertooth Tiger
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