Music Reviews — 06 June 2016
Cage the Elephant Highlights Memorable Fleet Week Party

Cage The Elephant

A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Pier 84 – Hudson River Park, New York, NY
May 29, 2016

Blog: Sailor Jerry Fleet Week Party

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Memorial Day celebrations in New York City are typically unlike any other- primarily because so many locals make a grand exodus out of town. For those of us fortunate enough to stick around the City for the long weekend, we were blessed with another Manhattan rite of passage as the annual Fleet Week commencements returned to our area. To commemorate the best of both worlds, spiced rum maker Sailor Jerry would throw a massive afternoon party along the west side waterfront, punctuated by a scintillating live performance by Bowling Green, Kentucky rock outfit, Cage the Elephant.

With an array of ‘Spiced Rum‘-infused cocktails and a spread of delicious pulled pork sandwiches awaiting the gathering of a few hundred guests- not to mention a wondrous day of sunshine- the festive atmosphere was apparent long before the day’s 1pm start time. Uniform-clad men and women would don their brightest whites and file into the makeshift outdoor space where a house DJ worked the mix to build anticipation for the day’s headliner. Meanwhile, attendees quickly grabbed customized screen printed t-shirts, posed for photos with The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus and dropped in for some ink at an actual pop-up tattoo shop right on site.

Concert Review: Cage The Elephant at Hudson River Park

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The largely spread out crowd slowly grew closer together in front of the stage just before the relatively ho-hum arrival for the four piece band. Touring in support of 2015′s critically lauded ‘Tell Me I’m Pretty,’ the band never worried about cannibalizing their local audience with the free performance despite two wildly successful gigs at the Central Park SummerStage just two short weeks earlier. But with the style and tempo that a Cage the Elephant show often brings, it is often difficult to get tired of such a good thing.

Putting into words the level of energy that the collective brings to each performance is fraught with futility. Managing to even snag a picture of frontman Matthew Shultz in one place is nearly impossible- ask our cameraman. But it’s the frenzy that often breeds the singer’s charisma and such a relentless commitment on stage to his craft and to his music is undeniably endearing; you can’t help but have a blast right along with him. You also won’t keep up with him either; Shultz’s motor is perhaps the most continuous that we can ever remember covering.

The daytime setting played as a perfect backdrop for the fast-paced set, which hummed along at 18 songs over roughly ninety electric minutes. Show opener “Cry Baby” signaled a punctuated arrival of the band’s new material, on which they would lean for more than a third of their performance. But 2013′s fantastic ‘Melophobia’ also seemed to share top-billing as fun cuts like “Spiderhead,” “It’s Just Forever” and “Come a Little Closer” kept the crowd moving around throughout. Even new cuts like “Mess Around” and “Trouble” were incredibly well received by the appreciative audience, sandwiching Cage staple, 2008′s “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked,” the rollicking and catchy single that launched the band into our collective consciousness.

The poignant “Too Late to Say Goodbye” was perhaps the most memorable of the new material considering both the song’s relatable meaning and given the fact that the totality of the show was simply that strong. Momentarily Shultz would take the time to give praise to the many troops gazing back at him from inside the erected tent, which in turn encouraged the remaining civilians in the room to extend their hands and do the same. It was an especially warm sentiment that allowed the show to feel grounded, putting into perspective the fact that the folks watching the band perform were undoubtedly far more heroic than a typical concert during the holiday weekend might otherwise indicate. And jumping alongside these brave men and women during show closers “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Teeth” revealed just how important it was for each of them to let loose at a rock show like the rest of us.

- Dave Gendelson

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