I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect much going in to see Cage the Elephant at the Ogden Theater on May 18. The opener, U.K. band Foals, with its equal parts luscious and vicious guitars that come off somewhere between Bloc Party and Interpol was what drew me in.
And Foals certainly delivered on my expectations, blasting out a muscular set with one helluva light show. Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis made some serious guitar faces as he thrashed around, singing with an unexpected savagery that cut through the soft lighting and twinkling guitars.
Foals are a typically a headlining act and didn’t hold anything back for not having top billing.
But Cage the Elephant, despite its generic and forgettable bar-band songs, brought its own thunder, primarily in the antics of frontman Matt Schultz, who has clearly studied up on his Rolling Stones and Rolling Stones-influenced bands. Schultz strutted and preened, singing with a sneer, and finishing with an Iggy Pop/Eddie Vedder/Yoga-studio influenced stage-diving display that included swimming atop the audience, climbing to the Ogden’s balcony, diving back down, doing a headstand atop the crowd and then walking back to the stage on their hands, Iggy Pop style. It was every bit as impressive that he pulled it off as it was that he didn’t slip a disc or puncture a lung in the process.
I have no need of owning a Cage the Elephant record, but if they’re coming through town again, I’ll be there with bells on and my camera ready.
Photos by Josh Gross