LIVE Review: Cage the Elephant 2/26/10 Recher Theatre in Towson, MD

Okay, you already know I’m a CTE homer and their live show this past Friday night at the Recher Theatre sealed the deal.

The evening started off great because I was there with my friends The DMC, Ryan, Kate, Mike and Brynn and they’re good company.   As soon as I saw the inside of the theatre, I was stoked.  Just a big ballroom with no seats and a stage at one end.   This is how I wanted to experience this band.

Before I forget, I’ve got to give props to Morning Teleportation and As Tall As Lions for both being excellent bands opening the show for CTE.  Please give props by clicking their names in the last sentence and discover their music for yourself.  There’s no surprise like knowing nothing about the two opening bands you’re going to see, and then thoroughly enjoying them both:)

When CTE took the stage, they took a nod from the Ramones and pretty much went from song to song.  As Joe Perry would say, they “let the music do the talking”…except for an amusing musing from frontman Matt Shultz about trading someone a Mark McGuire baseball card for a bunch of Cal Ripken cards some time back.   The Mark McGuire card “ain’t worth nothin’ anymore,” he laughed.

“Tiny Little Robots,” “Back Stabbin’ Betty,” “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked”…they played most, but not all, of their debut CD and some new ones as well.  It was really cool to just enjoy the new songs in the mix without introduction, and I have to say they all sat comfortably with their current selection of songs.   It would have been reeeeally nice to hear “Judas” live, though:)

I was hoping for a fun show from a truly dynamite up-and-coming band, but it was way more than that.  What I saw was what happens when good young musicians are influenced by Dylan, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Ramones and all the formative classics from rock to garage to punk.   They pick up on the GOOD habits, create their own blend and ultimately become a true band.   Cage the Elephant is, to me, ushering in a whole new generation of rock n roll.     Forget emo, screamo or whatever the flavor of the month is.   CTE is one of those truly special bands that is putting their own honest, youthful spin on the spirit of good old school rock n roll in creation of music that will sound just as great 10 years from now.

Matt Schultz is undoubtedly the center of attention on stage as the manic, spastic (I mean that as a compliment) never-stop-moving front man.  The younger generation needs its own Angus Young…someone with style who is truly relentless in letting the music take over onstage.   Matt Schultz is all that as a front man (‘cept he’s prettier…sorry Angus).    He’ll get even better with time, as he does tend to run out of breath singing at times.  Hell, I would, too, going crazy like that.   Don’t change a thing, Matt.

And the band…ladies and gentlemen, this is a true band.  Jared Champion (drums) and Daniel Tichenor (bass) lay down a tight and relentless groove that makes it easy to get lost in the songs.   Never overplaying but always slipping in some tasty licks when you care to focus in on what they’re individually playing.   Ya gotta have groove, baby, and these two are as fine of a rhythm section that any band could hope for as they combine both power and finesse.

And then there are the guitars…man, those guitars.   Brad Schultz and Lincoln Parish have ridiculous chemistry that’s all over their CD and translates quite well to the stage.  Do yourself a favor and slap on the ol’ headphones sometime and listen to the guitar work  on their CD.  Textures, rhythm, crunch, melodies and savvy that belie their young ages.    It was a joy to watch these guys live, as they both are obviously in love with the myriad sounds they can make with their guitars and ultimately the music they create.   If you haven’t seen this band live, it’s well worth your time to check them out.

It’s really sick that a band this young is this good.   One of my top 10 favorite new albums and bands of the past 25 years without a doubt.  And thank you Jared and Mr. Bill Champion for your kindness.   The CTE show was quite the loud, joyous, life-affirming experience I hoped it would be.   I will never ever forget this.

And as soon as I can successfully grab some still concert shots off my crappy camera, I’ll post some pics:)

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