Cults at Fitzgerald's, 11/5/2013

Cults Fitzgerald's November 5, 2013

In the generation of music we're listening to these days, whatever it may be called, it takes just that one single to put you into the national spotlight. Once upon a time there used to be major steps you had to take to even make it to the radio, but with the Internet's ever-expanding grasp and satellite radio in everyone's cars these days, it's much easier to get your tunes out there to the mass public.

Cults have taken full advantage of this formula and, even with their limited amount of material, have made it to the big time. Their song "Go Outside" can be heard all over the place: on TV commercials, out to eat at your local restaurant, at the hip local bar, in your mom's minivan, at your hairdresser. With their recent rise in popularity, they've used what that song has given them and turned it into a solid touring career.

The Manhattan-based act are much more than just "Go Outside," and with their growing status in the indie world, they're given an opportunity to shine on a much larger scale -- allowing more and more fans to take in their music they'd otherwise not know. They recently performed for a massive crowd at New Orleans' Voodoo Festival, and you could tell many went home a satisfied customer at the end of their set.

Tuesday was a bit different than their daytime Voodoo performance. They brought their stage show to an upstairs Fitzgerald's room that turned out to be pretty full for a Tuesday evening in Houston. With it, Cults brought a pretty lighting system that enhanced their show to a whole different level -- sometimes low-lit and blue, others with bright yellows and reds shining throughout the crowd, all while a projector shone over the band with different geometric patterns gyrating across their faces.

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Although the performance was brief, clocking in at just under an hour, they brought everything they could musically and vocally. Cults' eponymous debut record was on full display during the performance, highlighted by spirited takes on "You Know What I Mean," "Abducted" and "Oh My God," but it was their recently released Static that was the main focus. I'm yet to be introduced to that record fully, only having a chance to browse through it a few times, but it was what was represented live from the new album that was most intriguing from their set.

Cults have definitely grown in their sound in their three short years as a band, shifting from spacey melodic pop to more of a dance-based sound. The front-duo of Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have added much more vocal interplay to the mix, giving them both an opportunity to show off their talents to the adoring audience. It was Follin, however, who was the true star of the evening. Her effortless vocal approach to each and every song is what draws you in, but it's when she takes it an octave higher that she really stands out.

Review continues on the next page.

Only about 40 minutes after they started their set, Cults were already thanking the crowd before a quick encore break. Upon their return to stage, the finale started with the new track "Keep Your Head Up," before retreating to the obvious closer "Go Outside." It's a nice tune, one that was loved by everyone in the room, but in my honest opinion it was one of the weaker songs of the evening.

They might have grown sick of playing it over the past few years, or were just tired from a long weekend in New Orleans, but the band seemed to run through the motions during its entirety. It made for somewhat of a lackluster closing, which was unfortunate because the rest of the show was really great. I'm sure I'm being just a bit hypercritical, as everyone else seemed to love it, but it was just a bit unimpressive compared to the rest of the short set.

Overall it was a good performance from a good band -- a show that wasn't necessarily the best in the world, but most definitely far from bad. Cults definitely have some staying power in this rapidly changing indie music scene, and should see a fair amount of success moving forward in their young careers. All they have to do is continue regularly touring the country with their solid live performances and they'll have no trouble sticking around for a quite a while. Their set at Fitzgerald's last night certainly proved their worth.

Personal Bias: I first saw Cults live at Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2010, not too long after they formed as a band. It was right around the time when everyone was all up Best Coast's ass, and with both bands performing back-to-back that day, it was Cults who beat them at their own game. Ever since then, I've been stuck.

The Crowd: Young and hip, but thankfully lacking the teens that would've been there if it had been on a Saturday. Very appreciative too, and barely any talkers.

Random Notebook Dump: Why can't all Fitz shows have such a great light show? I'm sick of photographing the same dull red and blue light on any other given night. It used to be hella better before. What happened?


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