The Cult, Electric Factory, Friday April 8th by DAN LONG
DAN LONG: Joining The Cult — it’s a father and son thing, you wouldn’t understand. Or maybe you would. I can’t remember the exact moment it started – probably on a car ride with The Cult blasting over the shitty Subaru speakers and Dylan, my nine year old son, digging them. The next few years would be spent becoming semi-superfans, as my son and I built a tight Cult-centric bond.
During our second show together, on a Wednesday night at The Trocadero back in 2006, my son became a bit of a phenomenon. After a song, Ian looked in my eyes and gave me the “I’m gonna throw this to you for your kid” look. He aimed the tambourine, launched it, and it careened over my head, hit the lip of the overhead balcony and landed at a cool hippy chick’s feet. She dove on it and began spinning around like a Whirling Dervish, playing with her new gift along to a song that hadn’t even started yet. Ian kindly and promptly spoke into the mic, “No, it’s for the kid. Give it to the kid.” She continued to Dervish, oblivious to Ian’s words. “Hey – it’s for the kid man. Give it to the kid. Give it to the kid.”
Two people, then three, then ten, then a hundred, then the entire crowd began to chant “Give it to the kid! Give it to the kid! Give it to the kid.” By now, she had snapped out of her bliss, looked around and wondered why everyone was looking at her and chanting. Poor girl, what a reality shock when it connected. She mournfully looked at my little nine year old guy, and handed over the prize. The crowd went nuts. The band blasted into their next song, and I apologized to the fan girl. For the rest of the night, Dylan received what must have been a hundred high-fives, the setlist, drumsticks and picks that fans had caught, and hundreds of enthused shouts of “Look! It’s the kid!!! Yo, kid!!” I approached the tour manager, and asked him to bring the tambourine backstage and have the band sign it. I was hoping he would’ve just brought us back there to meet them all — no such luck — but he did oblige with the signing.
Over the next few years, the legacy of The Kid would continue on. Upon entrance to whatever venue we happened to be upon, the shouts would start immediately: “It’s The Kid!!!” At this point, one can assume there is a legion of fanatical Cult freaks who travel in packs like wolves. This is a very correct assumption, and the abbreviation of their warcry is CFFC: Cult Forever, Forever Cult.
After every show, John Tempesta, The Cult’s drummer for the last 10 years (the longest tenure of any Cult member other than Ian and Billy), would joyfully come out to the crowd to talk to the fans, pose for pictures, or sign items. He and Dylan built up a bond over the years, up to this past Friday night when they played the Electric Factory – we were fortunate to attend a meet and greet with John, Grant (bass), and Damon (guitar/keys) arranged by the good folks at School of Rock. John immediately recognized Dylan as The Kid and we enthusiastically chatted about the band, the history, the importance this relationship was/is to The Kid’s childhood and our bond as father and son. John is the real deal – no pretense, just a totally nice and thoughtful human. Dig it.
As I made my way through the crowd toward the photo pit at the Electric Factory, I made mental note of how the size of the crowd was easily double of the last time The Cult played the Electric Factory. Billy and Ian have a bad habit of chastising and making fun of the audience if there is a lack of energy or enthusiasm on the ticket holders’ end. It’s a vicious cycle that can and has spiraled downward, leaving all parties deflated. I felt a different energy last night; a big buzz, excitement, anticipation. This would be a personal first for me – I would be shooting from the photo pit and collaborating on a review with my son! What a milestone! These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I appeared at the barricade and flashed my fancy new official Cult photo pass to the security guard and began to move past him. He stopped me quickly and said “no media in the barricade area”. As I clenched my testicles after getting them metaphorically kicked in, I asked him to repeat that for the hard of hearing. “You can shoot from anywhere in the crowd, but not in the barricade area.” The first thing I thought was “Fucking Ian”. Right or wrong, that was my thought. I tried to politely jockey for a decent spot for shooting. At this point in the night, everyone is posted up in their spots and I was quickly becoming shit out of luck. I stood uncomfortably wedged behind a 6’4” gentleman, and an Amazonian woman. I spent the next 15 minutes trying to shoot between their heads. I’m no stranger to this setup; I once shot J Mascis with my lens peeking through the space in between a woman’s neck and her hair curl that extended outward.
The beginning of the set fell kinda flat for me, possibly soiled from my being photographically thwarted. Despite the flatness of the first of many classics – “Wildflower,” “Rain,” and “Horse Nation” — the highlights were the new songs. “Dark Energy” had everyone clapping along and jumping up and down to the tribal beat. “Hinterland” became an instant classic — after it ended, Ian proclaimed “Woo! That was good!!!” From that moment I knew the rest of the show would be epic. When Ian is happy, Billy is happy. When they’re both happy, the band rocks and the crowd freaks out.
When I heard that “Gone” would be in the set, I lost my shit. One of my favorite Cult songs ever. I watched a few live videos and saw that Ian phoned it in most of the time. I had prepared myself to be let down last night, but I was so wrong. The fervor the band brought for not only this song, but “Lil’ Devil,” “Sweet Soul Sister,” “The Phoenix,” and “She Sells Sanctuary,” was way above and beyond almost any Cult performance I’d seen before.
“Love Removal Machine” has become the staple encore for the band, and if it’s been a low energy show, it misses. Last night’s version had the crowd and band freaking out from the first measure. The double time section at the end was a veritable explosion, band and crowd in unison, audience arms pumping along. Graciously, Billy, Ian, and band addressed the crowd with extended thanks and bows – reinforcing to Dylan and I that this was one of the best Cult gigs to happen in the Philadelphia area in the last 10 years. Salute to all the band members over the past 10 years for having given myself and my son a ton of wonderful bonding experiences. Still haven’t met Ian and Billy.
DYLAN LONG: Since I was nine years old, I have been listening to The Cult. My dad decided to expose me to them in the car one day, and upon listening to Love for the first time in its entirety, I was forever changed. After listening to Love on repeat in the car for some time, we progressed to Electric. I only fell further in love, and we kept that record on constant repeat in the car for what felt like months. Fast-forward to November of 2006, and my dad is taking me to see The Cult for the first time. This was also my first ever concert. The performance they put on was friggin’ electrifying. Sensational stuff. My nine year old self could not believe his little eyes or ears.
As my dad described, after several more gigs, I became known in the Cult’s east coast community as “The Kid.” This was a very exciting experience for me, as I’d always been a very eccentric and outgoing kid, particularly with strangers. As we continued to attend Cult gigs whenever they were around, I was a continual recipient of drum sticks, tambourines, picks, you name it. Another tambourine instance occurred when I was a teenager; Ian threw his tambourine into the crowd and it landed smack dab in the middle of the two most macho men in the entire place. They were pretty close to my dad and I, so it was especially startling when they started fighting the shit out of each other for it. As soon as one of them came out victorious with the damn thing, he immediately raced right up to me, and said “this is for you.” The other guy come up to meet us, and says, “I was going to do the exact same thing!” To put it humbly, I was officially a pretty big deal. By 2016, the adoration of “The Kid” had died down in the fan realm, but when I went backstage at the Factory to meet Cult drummer John Tempesta once again, he instantly recognized me. This was a very special moment for him and I, as we chatted for a good ten minutes, wishing each other the best in life and hugging it out in addition to several pictures and much merch signing.