Tag Archives: Jared Champion

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Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man Provide a Glimpse of Summer

May 17th, 2016

Cage the Elephant/Portugal. The Man – SummerStage – May 16, 2016

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Those waking up on Monday morning in the NYC area probably had a tough time believing that summer was almost here. With temperatures in the unseasonably low 40s, seeing music outdoors wasn’t an obvious activity for later that evening. But when showtime rolled around, the wind had died down, and Central Park’s SummerStage was packed with people who were more than comfortable as they kicked off the summer-concert season with plenty of temperature-raising rock and roll from the stage.

As far as double bills go, the pairing of Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man was relatively inspired. In fact, at times the two sets seemed to echo each other, as if the bands were two sides of the same sheet of paper, each providing answers to the questions posed by the other. Portugal. The Man got things rolling: In contrast to the last time they performed at SummerStage, with lasers and clouds of smoke, they played mostly in daylight, but their set was anything but sunshine. Delving deep into a set list built largely from their Evil Friends and In the Mountain in the Cloud albums, frontman John Gourley and the band found new life in the tour-tested material, adding pockets of serrated guitar to songs like “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” and extraterrestrial synth to “Head Is a Flame (Cool with It).” The crowd sang along and everyone found their mid-July dancing form, truly enjoying the band’s first NYC appearance in more than a year and a half. A new song was synth-psych Motown, Gourley singing about “coming in hot like it’s summer in the city we’re living in.” The sound dialed in about halfway through their hour-long set, building to a crescendo that peaked as the sun set with “All Your Light,” a fireworks display that opened into four distinct well-choreographed jams of varying intensity that eventually returned to a completely redesigned final verse leading to a blistering take on the outro riff from the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

With the sun fully set, Cage the Elephant began to build the energy even higher. Their opening number, “Cry Baby,” was like a distorted-guitar so-heavy Beatles, lead singer Matthew Shultz bounding and thrashing across the stage. By the second song, “In One Ear,” the audience was ready to clap, sing and dance along as the this-is-a-rock-show lights were in full bloom of the purple, yellow, reds and blues of Portugal. The Man’s set closer. At some point, someone in the crowd threw a phone onstage and got a unique-vantage photo, the summer’s-almost-here party vibe making its annual pilgrimage into the hearts and minds of young rockers everywhere. From there, the show was a dark and smoky dance party, shades of solstice sunshine in “Trouble” with its central core of “ooowoowoo.” Instead of singing about “evil friends,” Shultz warned that there “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” The sold-out audience basked in the reds and blues and white strobe lights as the band worked through material off Tell Me I’m Pretty and Melophobia, with occasional rock-out explosions to match the mood. When the show finally concluded and the lights came back on, it was merely mid-spring again, but as the intermingling music of Cage. The Man still buzzed in the Central Park air, it was clear that summer is almost here.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Cage the Elephant and Portugal. The Man play SummerStage again tonight.)

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Summer’s Coming: Four Big Shows Next Week in New York City

May 13th, 2016

Summer doesn’t actually arrive for another five weeks or so, but the summer-music season gets kicked off next week in a very big way.

Bowling Green, Ky., quartet Cage the Elephant’s fourth studio album, Tell Me I’m Pretty (stream it below), produced by Dan Auerbach, came out last December, impressing Exclaim!: “If your sister were Anita Miller from Almost Famous, she might tell you to listen to Tell Me I’m Pretty with a candle burning. Matthew Shultz has hit the mark lyrically and vocally here, inviting listeners into the emotionally charged and honest world that Cage the Elephant inhabit. Although we still hear his lo-fi, distorted vocals throughout the record, many moments are left confidently unadorned and clear.” Known for their fiery live performances, Cage the Elephant play SummerStage, alongside Portugal. The Man and Broncho, on Monday and Tuesday.


From the land of Britpop, in Manchester, England, the 1975 (above, performing “Love Me” earlier this year on Saturday Night Live) have risen up as a band with global appeal. Their second LP, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It (stream it below), arrived in February, topping the charts here and across the Atlantic. “When a band conquers the charts with a fun but inoffensive debut album, you don’t expect them to return with a 17-track follow-up that tempers pop tunes with swampy post-rock instrumentals and references mental health, religion, addiction, loneliness and fame. But the 1975, whose self-titled debut hit number one in 2013, aren’t concerned with playing it safe,” raves NME. They bring their arena-ready rock to Barclays Center on Tuesday night. Wolf Alice and the Japanese House open the show.


Another English band to hit No. 1, Rudimental, the London four-piece, have been making shake-it-don’t-break-it electronic music for just a few years, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming wildly popular. Their sophomore studio album, We the Generation (stream it below), recorded in Jamaica, came out last fall. The Evening Standard noted its “positive vibes” and “their sunny reworking of dingy old drum and bass.” And on Wednesday at SummerStage, they kick off a short tour with the like-minded North London electronic duo Gorgon City. Brooklyn duo Walker & Royce open the show.