LIVE Review: Cage the Elephant 5/8/11 Rams Head Live! in Baltimore, MD

Cage the Elephant ticket stubHaving been a fan of this band ever since I first heard the stone cold classic “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” in 2009, it’s been quite cool to see them grow as a band.  I saw them last year at the Recher Theater in February and then again in October opening for Stone Temple Pilots in Pittsburgh.   Both shows were quite fun and I was very much looking forward to this show at Rams Head Live…especially since my heroes Clutch have some awesome live videos recorded there.

First of all, Rams Head Live is my new favorite live venue. Just a really cool, open, multilevel atmosphere that must be a blast for bands to perform in.  Especially a band like Cage the Elephant with such an in-your-face front man.  I really didn’t know what I was in for, though.   As much as I expected a good show, what I saw and heard was a band becoming true seasoned pros right before our eyes. The most obvious difference was guitarist Lincoln Parish’s stage presence. Not that he wasn’t just fine before, but man he’s lost whatever shred of shyness he may have had and was working the crowd along with the rest of the band.

Cage the Elephant Matt Schultz Brad Schultz Lincoln Parish Daniel Tichenor Jared ChampionAs a band, they’re just plain tight and full of life.   From opener “In One Ear” through the entire set, the performance was right on the nuggets and a lot of fun.   Matt Schultz was his usual ball of unbridled energy…moving, dancing, flailing, diving and singing his way through the night in constant motion.   The band, quite frankly, is becoming a finely tuned machine.   Drummer Jared Champion and bassist Daniel Tichenor are fast becoming one of my favorite rhythm sections with just the right combination of power and touch.   Then there’s guitarists Lincoln Parish and Brad Schultz…who are fast becoming one of my favorite guitar tandems.   The chemistry between them and their attention to detail with guitar tones is just incredible.

Cage the Elephant Rams Head Live May 8 2011They covered all the bases with their hits so far, playing “In One Ear,” “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” “Back Against the Wall,” and “Shake Me Down,” but what I love the most about seeing these guys live is that the fans aren’t just about the hits.   It felt like everyone knew every word to every song, creating a real sense of togetherness, and it just feels so good to scream “Cuz you’re a robot!” at the top of your lungs during the chorus of “Tiny Little Robots.”

To hear the crowd singing along to every word of “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Shake Me Down” in particular (and to feel that energy) was just incredible.

Cage the Elephant Rams Head Live May 8 2011The band may hate me for drawing this comparison, but the visual that comes to mind is the band practice on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with everyone just dancing and playing and having a great time doing it…albeit with more attitude.   Dance like no one’s watching.  It just happens that those who are watching and listening are loving every minute of it.  I just don’t think there’s any band having more fun with music than Cage the Elephant.   And it shows.   If they come to your town or anywhere near, don’t miss them!

Ultimately the best thing about the show was that there were songs like “Judas” and “Back Stabbin’ Betty” that I would have just loved to hear but weren’t on the night’s set list.   Why is that good?   Because just two albums in, they have so many good songs that at the end of the night it just didn’t matter.

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