Live review: Cage the Elephant, The Fillmore (6/19/2014)



Cage the Elephant
The Fillmore
June 19, 2014

Cage the Elephant

Members of the sold-out Fillmore crowd held up Cage the Elephant singer Matt Shultz in the air as sweat poured down his body. Belting out the chorus of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" to Cage's frantic "Sabertooth Tiger," he suddenly fell forward and crowd-surfed his way back to the stage. It was a move that capped off a night during which Shultz, and the audience, never stood still.

Even after the final distorted notes rang out and cymbals finished crashing, Shultz continued the chorus as the crowd filed out of the steamy venue. Cruising through 15 songs in just over an hour is a quick pace, but Cage the Elephant never ceases to amaze and puts its stamp on music as one of the best live acts around.

While there were times last year when Cage, who opened up for Muse, got swallowed up by the cavernous Time Warner Cable Arena, this time around, the Kentucky rockers looked right at home in the smaller setting. The band was within arm's reach of the sweaty throngs of fans singing along to every word.

Cage the Elephant

More than half of the band's setlist came from its most recent album, Melophobia. The band has always defined its sound as a combination of blues, rock, punk and funk, with garage overtones, which come out stronger in the live setting. Gone are the crisp studio versions in favor of fuzzed-out, passionate and seasoned songs that resonate for moments after they're over.

Starting with the opening song, "Spiderhead," Shultz danced and grooved his way around the stage to quickly get warmed up. Halfway through the next song, "In One Ear," Shultz was already off the stage and on the barricade singing to fans, building up a frenzy in the audience - a good number of whom found plenty of time to crowdsurf.

Just five songs into the set, an already dripping-wet Shultz shed his white shirt. Aside from a brief "rest" during a toned-down "It's Just Forever," the entire band set a hectic pace and Shultz never stopped moving. Guitarist Nick Bockrath, who has replaced original guitarist Lincoln Parish (he left the band in December), fit right in and the band hasn't lost a step sonically.

Cage's other guitarist, Brad Shultz, found time to crowdsurf during "Teeth," and later thanked the audience for a busted lip he got while doing it. "I'd like to thank this area over here," he said, pointing to a portion of the audience. "I was spitting blood for those last few songs. That's how it should be."

While a few radio-friendly hits have won them a bigger fan base, Cage the Elephant's raw concerts are what keep fans coming back each time they're in town. Having first seen Cage the Elephant at Bonnaroo in 2009, it's nice to see that as far as the band's spirited performance and blues-meets-punk sound, not much has changed in the last five years.

Cage the Elephant

In One Ear
Take It or Leave It
Cigarette Daydream
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
Back Against
It's Just Forever
Come a Little Closer

Shake Me Down

Cage the Elephant

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