Cage the Elephant’s Performance at Darien Lake was Biblical
BUFFALO, NY –
“… With Cage the Elephant coming up next, the surrounding lawn and seated areas immediately became swarmed with hundreds of fans. Now, having heard that these dudes from Kentucky were notorious for an absolutely explosive and face-melting set, I prepped myself for the same. In hindsight, “explosive” is a gross understatement.
Cage the Elephant’s performance at Darien Lake was biblical. Coming off the release of their fifth studio album, Social Cues, Cage has definitely taken a left turn with their image. Much like the name of the single “Ready to Let Go” from Social Cues, Cage really has let go of whatever perceptions fans may have envisioned for them in terms of aesthetic. I mean, the album art speaks for itself.
Clad in what could only be described as a red gimp suit with a cowboy hat as the cherry on top, frontman Matt Schultz has definitely embraced the wild and weird. This could not have been better exemplified than with Shultz’s outrageous outfit and stage persona during their set last Tuesday. With each member of Cage coming out on stage gradually, Shultz was the last to make his way out as he did a sort of interpretive dance around stage as the booming synths built up in the background.
Decked out in blue lace panties over patterned leggings with a fishnet shawl, knee pads, and a white mask, Shultz jolted to the microphone and lept in the air as flames erupted in the background to their opening of “Broken Boy”. The opening track off of Social Cues, “Broken Boy” was an absolute ripper of an introduction as Shultz thrust and hurled himself around the stage with his brother, Brad Shultz, stomping and shredding with the other gents of Cage.
Trying to follow Matt with my camera was almost like watching a hummingbird flutter rapidly from flower to flower as Matt was so sporadic and energetic. It was almost like watching Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and Angus Young morphed into one as Shultz mirrored their mannerisms to a T.
During “Cold Cold Cold”, the interaction between the crowd and the band during this song was great. Brad Shultz jumped down from the stage to stand on the monitors and shred inches away from some fans dancing against the barricade, while Matt ripped his mask off and made his way down to the GA floor. From there, Shultz ran and sang his way to the soundboard, high-fiving fans along the way.
Along with the crowd interaction displayed by most of Cage’s members, their stage production was also to die for as well. With a giant square-like light rig that was fixed over the entire stage with pyrotechnics to boot, the production was as energetic as their live show.
After a couple more killer song choices that included “Trouble”, “Tokyo Smoke”, and, “Skin and Bones”, Matt once again returned to the crowd. As he hopped down to the GA floor, Matt took his time as he seemed to sing to each member of the front row, making direct eye contact. After leaping over the barricade, Shultz continued to make his way through the audience until he got to the handicapped section off to the side of stage right. Holding the hand of a particular woman who was bound to a wheelchair and singing to her until the end of “Skin and Bones”. Someone informed Matt that it was the woman’s birthday, and Matt immediately told the entire amphitheater to chant along with him as they wished her a very happy birthday. Honestly, I doubt anyone could have asked for a more picture-perfect moment between fan and star.
The display of earnest appreciation that Cage shows towards their fans is what every band should strive for when it comes to the relationship between musical act(s) and their admirers. Although most would have probably guessed that moment would have been the definitive moment of Cage’s set, the best for me was a tie between “Cigarette Daydreams” live and Matt Shultz’s crowd surfing all the way to the back of the lawn amphitheater.
During the pre-chorus of “Cigarette Daydreams”, smoke appeared like clouds when it shot out from behind the band and engulfed Matt so you could only see the top of his head, making it seem like he was rising slowly into the heavens above. It was textbook visualization and stage presence that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.
After “Cigarette Daydreams” came “Teeth”, Cage’s last song of the night, which saw Matt running back into the crowd for a third time and crowd surfing his way to the back of the lawn section. Even after the rest of the band had stopped playing and Beck’s crew was beginning to set up the stage, Matt was still riding high on the heads and hands of hundreds of fans. Finally making his way to the back of the venue, Matt climbed atop a bar stand and with one last fist pump and bowed to the audience, climbed over the fence and disappeared into the night. With his departure signaling the official end of their set, Cage the Elephant had raised the bar that Spoon had placed quite high before them to almost incomprehensible heights…”