Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Joe Papeo
Rock n roll legend has it that, years ago, a small-time band from Bowling Green, Kentucky was hanging outside a club in Tennessee late one night when they were approached by a random, and possibly mentally ill stranger exclaiming, ‘You have got to cage the elephant!’ And then poof, a band name was born.
While that’s how the story goes, I prefer to think that Cage The Elephant actually refers to what they do with the band’s lead singer, Matt Shultz, when he’s not performing. Because onstage, the dude is a wild fucking animal. And at Starland Ballroom on July 30th, Shultz and his tribe were met by a pack of rabid New Jersey fans ready to match their intensity.
Opening act Bear Hands worked the sold-out house into an undeniable frenzy, to the point that kids were crowd-surfing to Starland’s house music between sets. For a Wednesday night, this mob was certainly unleashed.
The headliner took the spotlight around 9PM, kicking things off with the first track from 2013’s Melophobia, ‘Spiderhead’. Much more Melo followed, including ‘Take It Or Leave It’, which showcased the band’s uncanny ability to make songs that sound fairly tame in the studio knock the wind out of you in concert. Performed live, the riffs seemed heavier, the changes seemed more dramatic, and the overall energy inside the venue was downright contagious.
And as for the harder stuff, that’s where Shultz was a true spectacle – stomping, swaying, headbanging, and sometimes even Jim Morrison-ing his way through ragers like ‘It’s Just Forever’ and ‘Teeth’. Fans were giving it right back, screaming along to every last note of the set, and diving into the crowd from literally any elevated surface in sight.
The place was a zoo, and tonight, its full moon was just a single disco ball glowing over the dance-floor.
TheWaster.com | NJ