Beck and Cage The Elephant Blow Audience Away in Mountain View

in SF Concert Reviews by

If you’ve never been to a Cage The Elephant show before, there’s really no way to describe it. Few acts out there provide the same level of raw energy and excitement as these Kentucky indie-rockers. It’s a show that needs to be experienced because mere words cannot do it justice. And so it caught me off guard to find out that they’d been chosen to open for the much more laid back Beck for a tour simply called, “Night Running” (which is actually the name of a song that they both collaborated on).

But the night hadn’t yet arrived when singer Matt Shultz and the boys entered the scene, which made for some less than ideal conditions. Shultz made up for it by jumping into the crowd early into the show. Dressed in red underpants and fire-proof goggles, looking like a crazed pyromaniac in search of his latest fix, he ran up and down the aisles of the Shoreline as adoring fans surged to his side, while flames and other pyros engulfed the stage.

Shultz who could very well be the bastard child of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger had the audience right where he wanted them the entire night and sounded incredible. As one fan pointed out, “It’s amazing that he can run all around and sing in key the entire time.”

They opened with tracks like “Broken Boy” and “Cry Baby,” but it wasn’t until they brought out their heavy-hitters “Ready to Let Go,” and the blues-tinged “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” that the crowd erupted in an uncontrollable frenzy.

Next up, was the headliner for the evening. The quirky yet lovable musical genius also known as Beck. Emerging from atop a platform where all we could see was a perfectly etched silhouette, he kicked things off strongly with generation-defining hit “Loser,” sporting just a cowboy hat and an acoustic guitar strapped around his neck.

In between cheers, Beck performed a series of hits from his entire discography, touching on tracks from at least eight albums. “Up All Night” had everyone up on their feet. “The New Pollution” was contagious in its groove melody. And “Black Tambourine,” really showcased the musical smorgasbord that Beck can tap into when composing his songs.

A few covers rounded out the already impressive setlist. “Everybody’s Got to Learn something,” a Korgis cover and two encores “Search and Destroy” by the Stooges as well as “Miss You,” by the Stones. But it wasn’t until “Where It’s At,” that the crowd really showed their true fervor for the iconic frontman who, unlike the openers, didn’t rely on much theatrics to get his point across, just some very innovative songwriting.

Photos by Louis Raphael

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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