When you work up a sweat at a show, you know you’ve had a good time. The Easter eve stop of the Spring Fling tour at Rochester’s Main Street Armory made sure the 6500 in attendance did just that. The package tour, headlined by Bowling Green, KY natives, Cage the Elephant along with Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands, may become one of those hallmark tours mentioned years from now. This show puts together four perfectly complementing artists, all proving the state of rock and roll is alive and quite well, thank you.
Headliners Cage the Elephant had the sold out crowd eating out of their hands from the opening notes of “Cry Baby.” Lead singer Matt Schultz’s stage presence evokes the spirit of peak Iggy Pop or Mick Jagger. Shortly into the set, his red sport coat and shirt were shed and audience members were surfing the crowd. This is the band the young crowd was here to see and a band sure to make waves in the mainstream if its current live show is any indication.
Like many great bands, Cage the Elephant is best heard in a live setting. Shultz commands your attention and the band is top notch. Particularly impressive was the interaction the audience had with the band during its performance. For an “indie” band, Cage the Elephant surely engages the masses. This was particularly exhibited during Cage’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” from their 2008 debut. Fans held their hands high in the air while singing along while others made attempts to surf the crowd.
Cage had tough acts to follow on this night. The earlier bands on the bill all delivered solid performances. Veteran Los Angelinos, Silversun Pickups could very well have been the headliners on this tour. The Pickups have been indie rock stalwarts since their debut Carnavas in 2006. Lead singer Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger have an onstage chemistry akin to an older brother and younger sister. Aubert introduced the new song “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)” as Monninger’s first foray into lead vocals. She responded as being nervous putting herself out there but performed the song beautifully, winning over the audience. The Pickups set ended with a raucous version of their first charting song, “Lazy Eye.” Aubert’s vocal were hardly necessary as the crowd sang along word for word. It was a solid ending to a solid performance by one of indie rock’s most versatile bands.
Foals performed early, and while still working to win over the American public, they made it known that they wouldn’t be an opening act for long in the states. These Brits performed a set reminiscent of Joy Division meets the Clash. Lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis has a manic stage presence that makes you take notice. Foals will be making their presence known to the American mainstream in short order.
Brooklyn-based band Bear Hands opened the night. Out of the four bands on the bill, Bear Hands were the most indie of the bunch. Several times throughout the brief yet energetic set, one could imagine Interpol or the Smiths onstage. But Bear Hands absolutely proved their worth on this bill of indie heavyweights. We’ll be hearing more from this band in the future.
The Spring Fling tour has wrapped but Cage the Elephant is continuing to tour. Upcoming in New York is a date with Portugal, the Man and Broncho at the Times Union Center in Albany on May 11. You can also catch them at Summerstge in Central Park on May 16 and 17.