Concert Review: Beck & Cage The Elephant (PNC Music Pavilion)


Beck and Cage The Elephant's current co-headlining tour felt like it might be the tour of the summer when it was announced back in February. In March, Beck and Cage joined forces on the "Night Running" single. The anticipation, which had been raging for six months, was finally sated when they brought The Night Running Tour to Charlotte's PNC Music Pavilion on August 25th.

After an eye-opening performance by Sunflower Bean and an energetic set by Spoon which saw frontman Britt Daniel at the top of his game, Cage The Elephant hit the stage at 8. Their live shows are legendary, mostly due to the frenetic stage presence of singer Matt Shultz. The Charlotte show was no different.

Shultz hit the stage in a Phantom Of The Opera-esque mask, holding the skeleton of an umbrella, and wearing about twenty-seven layers of clothing. Shultz would peel off a layer of clothing after the band would perform a song or two.

The band sounded great, but unfortunately for them, all eyes remained fixed on Shultz and his lively stage presence. It is crazy that Matt Shultz can go out there, night after night, and perform the way he does. But somehow he does it.

Cage The Elephant played half a dozen songs from their latest album, Social Cues, but also played many fan favorites like "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked," "Cigarette Daydreams," "Trouble," and "Come A Little Closer" before ending the set with "Teeth" which culminated with Matt Shultz running deep into the crowd, all the way to the lawn seats, and climbing the barricade.

How big of a baller is Beck? Big enough to bring out his only top 10 hit to start his Night Running set. Most bands would've closed the show with "Loser." But "Loser" is a testament to Beck's career. Less talented acts would've faltered after that song, doomed to one-hit-wonderland for the rest of their lives. But because Beck is such a deft songwriter and can meld genres like nobody's business, "Loser" only served as an introduction to his lengthy, critically-claimed career and he used the song as an introduction to his set.

While Cage's performance was more insane, Beck's was more cool. He was dressed in a suit, sunglasses, and a fedora as bright, psychedelic images pulsed on the huge screen behind him.

Most of Beck's setlist came from his Colors, Guero, and Odelay albums. With thirteen studio albums spread across a 25+ year career, it's hard to condense all that great music into a 75-minute set and you have to omit some fan favorites. Beck did perform standout tunes like "Girl," "Mixed Bizness," "Gamma Ray," "Wow," "Devils Haircut," "The New Pollution," "Dreams," and a set-closing "E-Pro."

He came out after a short break and finished the set with "Where It's At" and his duet with Matt Shultz, "Night Running."

You know what? This really was the tour of the summer.




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Strange Carolinas is the Travelogue Of The Offbeat, a wry look at the interesting, unique, and offbeat roadside attractions, people, music, art, food, and festivals in North and South Carolina.


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