Lollapalooza 2011, Sunday: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

  • Photograph: Max Herman

    Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

Photograph: Max Herman

Lollapalooza 2011: Day 3: Cage the Elephant

 


Last year it was the xx and Mumford & Sons. This year, Cage the Elephant was the band that brought an frightening amount of people to the Petrillo Band Shell. And that's where the comparison between these groups can end. The hypes of 2010 were a snooze. Cage the Elephant quite simply blew away my expectations, and in this 20th anniversary edition, reminded me the most of spirit and sounds of Lollapalooza 1991.


The third song the Kentucky quintet tore through was "Aberdeen," from the radical curveball of a sophomore album, Thank You, Happy Birthday. If the titular town doesn't ring a bell, let me help. Aberdeen, Washington, is the hometown of Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana influence is quite evident on Cage singer Matthew Schultz, down to the dirty blond mop of hair and frayed denim. The 27-year-old throws his entire body into performing, and wails like Cobain with a twang. "If for some reason I jump into the crowd and get knocked unconscious, I want you guys to pass my body around for the rest of the day," he told the densely packed flock. 


Of course, during the subsequent song, "Tiny Little Robots," he went head first into the waves of outstretched arms. Schultz rolled over his manic fans, and sang from the photo pit, leaning into the them. In turn they climbed fences and trees to catch a glimpse of the madness. "Get that guy a wireless mic," some guy yelled.


Yet, Cage the Elephant don't sound much like Nirvana at all. "Aberdeen" is pure Pixies, the band Nirvana knocked-off. Thank You recalls Trompe Le Monde, but the Pixies don't quite hit it on the head either. The Bowling Green bunch has also been compared to Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and Beck. And those touchstones all seem really misguided in the flesh. This band is just hard to describe. Watching Schultz bounce on the plywood stage, swaying his shaggy bangs, brought to mind Tim Burgess of the Charlatans as much as Seattle's icons. "Around My Head" best displays that trace of baggy Britpop. Bits of dance-punk, psychedelic and Southern rock can also be tasted in Cage's quirky recipe.


Whatever. Labels. Regardless of how you want to explain it, the music is sold by the band's boundless energy. From what I've read, many critics hate this group. I don't get that. That makes as little sense as this sign I saw a girl up front holding: "Fuck the Elephant Inside of You!" It's been a guilty pleasure of mine. When the rain began to fall, Schultz noted, "Nothing like 20,000 people taking a shower together." He underestimated the crowd. Kids climbed trees and fences to steal a look. Junk-food douche Guy Fieri banged his head at the side of the stage (yes, with his sunglasses on backwards). People were losing their minds. Fuck it if they're not hip. These arty hicks destroyed just about all I saw this week. Except the Joy Formidable.


 



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