BY PELLE GUNTHER The best thing to come out of Kentucky since fried chicken, Cage The Elephant are a gang of punky, blues rockers currently wreaking their own brand of testosterone-driven, rock-havoc on the world. Currently they are as popular as they are obvious — I hear undigested chunks of Pixies, Janes, Pumpkins in the mix — but since when was that a bad thing in rock and/or roll? Their self-titled debut spawned three singles that charted in the top 5, and the new Thank You, Happy Birthday has been eagerly awaited at my house.
Saturday’s Factory sold out lightning fast, brewing a sea of sweaty, enthusiastic fans, who willingly subjected themselves to the auditory travesty that was the opening act (I’ll not dignify them with a namecheck), just for a chance to see front-man Matt Shultz go absolutely ape shit in person while his brother breaks out mean-ass guitar riffery. When Cage the Elephant finally arrived on stage, they proceeded — with no bullshit, or crowd banter — straight into “In One Ear” from their first album, then embarked on a long, energetic set, playing nearly the entirety of Thank You, Happy Birthday.
“Geraldine” “Aberdeen” sounded particularly solid and “Flow” added a nice mellow interlude from the loud-ass craziness, the highlight of the night was the trifecta of “Back Against the Wall” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” followed by “Shake Me Down,” which left everyone in a faintly optimistic, and altogether awestruck state. Looking back though, if it wasn’t for Shultz shaking his body across the stage like a demented ragdoll, there would have been some fairly unbearable moments. While all their big singles were extremely tight, the deep cuts were definitely hit and miss. Luckily, where the music slacked off — due to the sad reality that not all of the songs they make are as eargasmic as “Geraldine” — Matt’s energized body thrashing and rock antics kept things visually interesting at the very least.
During their last song, Shultz performed his trademark crowd surf, in which he literally stands upon the crowd as the guitars feedback before throwing himself to the crowd, violently seizing to the music and screaming into the mic. After the band left, not satisfied with one dive, Shultz convinced a roadie to dive with him, before the band returned for their encore. He then killed his schtick by stage diving a third time at the end — at which point the antic was much less thrilling or interesting. Still, I’ll be back for more.