ACL Review: Cage the Elephant

Widescreen Britpop ballads and rampaging garage-psych

One thing can be said with total certainty about Bowling Green, Kentucky’s Cage the Elephant: They exert a lot of energy.

Photo by Gary Miller

That’s a very important live music calling card to these seemingly Oasis-influenced would-be stadium rockers. After all, that band’s Liam Gallagher could never be bothered to actually front the band. Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz has no such qualms with wowing an audience.

He was all over the Honda stage Saturday evening, running/jumping/mugging in a red-and-black-striped button-down shirt and gold boots he likely should’ve loaned to the Struts’ Luke Spiller the day before. Most of the time, he preferred facing the crowd from the lip of the security barrier. That’s one sure way to reach your audience.

Not that Shultz need worry.

This crowd wasn’t in the palm of the band’s collective hand so much as in its hip pocket from the first notes of set opener “Cry Baby.” The audience skewed typically young for the new, youth-oriented ACL, so they knew every last lyric. That made for an awesome spectacle as Cage’s widescreen Britpop ballads and rampaging garage-psych unspooled.

The excitement that straight-up rock bands Cage the Elephant and the Struts aroused at Zilker Park this weekend proved one thing: Even hip-hop/EDM nation is starved for rock & roll. Record companies, radio programmers, and festival bookers, take heed.

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Cage the Elephant, ACL Fest 2016, Matt Shultz, Liam Gallagher, Oasis

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