Thanks to several stints at festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella, Cage the Elephant are quickly becoming know for their live shows. Since forming in 2006, their fan following has grown in numbers all over the world. During their sold out show May 14 at the Aragon it was easy to see the effect their music has on people as many stuffed themselves into the venue just to get a glimpse of the band. The longer the crowd waited, the more the anticipation grew.
When they finally did step on stage, all they had to do was say “Chicago!” and the place erupted. They opened with “Spiderhead” causing singer Matt Shultz to break out in his convulsive dancing. As usual everyone sounded great and performed like it was their last show ever. New touring guitarist Nick Bockrath seems to be a good fit for the band; he acted and played like he had been a part of the group for years. Former guitarist Lincoln Parish will be missed, but Bockrath is doing a great job.
When they launched into the energetic “In One Ear” Matt peeled off his shirt, showing his fit physique. Surprisingly, the set list focused on their latest album. They performed every song from it, except for “Hypocrite,” but they made sure to squeeze in some fan favorites, like “Aberdeen,” which made the crowd go wild. It wasn't before long til Matt was swimming through the crowd with trusty roadies holding up his mic cord, so could still pull off his distinct vocals. It was around “Take it Or Leave It” where expressed his love for Chicago by calling it the band's second home. It's standard for all bands to make wherever city they are feel loved, but since Cage the Elephant have repeatedly come back to the city, the moment feels genuine.
“Cigarette Daydreams” offered a mellow moment before things got rowdy with their hit “Ain't No Rest for the Wicked,” which got everyone singing along. “Telescope” presented another opportunity for the crowd to relax, while some brought out their lighters to complete the soothing mood as Matt crooned “Time is like a leaf in the wind/either it's time well spent or time I've wasted/Don't waste it.” Though it's so easy to focus all your attention on Matt, the other members are just as energetic. During songs like “Back Against the Wall” and “It's Just Forever” guitarist Brad Shultz bounced around stage and even laid on his back while still playing at one point, while Bockrath provided impressive back up vocals allowing Matt to hop and bounce around stage. Sometimes it's hard to know who to focus on, but it goes to the show the guys all about putting on memorable performances.
After “Come a Little Closer,” which prompted another sing-a-long from the crowd, the band left the stage causing the crowd to chant “One more song! One more song!” They came back for an encore of “Shake Me Down” and the chaotic “Sabertooth Tiger,” where Matt pushed himself even more. Once again he dove into the crowd during the bridge and crowd surfed while commenting how they were having a hard time holding him up: “I'm only 120 pounds and you can't hold me up? I need those big guys over there!” The song finished and while the rest of the band left the stage, Matt swam through the crowd. When he made it back on stage he looked over the awe struck crowd and said “Here's the deal: I want to come back out there and hang with you guys, but you have to put the phones away. Instagram will be there later. It's not going anywhere.” He went back out there this time performing a handstand in the middle of the audience. When he swam back to the stage, he bowed and bid the city good night, leaving fans with plenty of moments to talk about while heading home. Cage the Elephant shows they are one of the best live acts around and as the band goes on, Matt Shultz keeps getting better as the charming, charismatic, and off-balance frontman.
Cage the Elephant are currently touring to support their latest album "Melophobia." They'll be back in Chicago for Lollapalooza this August. They'll also be supporting the Black Keys on their Fall tour. For more on the band and to get a copy of their LP, visit their website. Be sure to also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.