Arts & Culture

Cage the Elephant headlines last night of multi-group tour for WBRU bash

Foals, Bear Hands, Silversun Pickups join in April Fools’ show at Dunkin' Donuts Center

By
News Editor
Monday, April 4, 2016

Musicians from Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands closed out WBRU’s April Fools’ Bash Friday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, embracing the members of headliner Cage the Elephant on stage. The four bands celebrated not only the final song of the evening but also of their joint month-long, national Spring Fling tour.

The show opened with Bear Hands, an indie, post-punk band that reached its peak point of fame with the summer 2014 hit “Giants,” a song as grungy in its vocals as it is charming in its guitar riffs.

The Brooklynites were more captivating on stage than in their most recent record: 2014’s “Distraction.” The ambiance was bolstered by the lead singer’s red hair swooshing before his face and the overlapping beams of black light framing the stage. Audience members could be seen visibly nodding to the music — a move suitable for the band, whose songs don’t encourage dancing aggressively.
The crowd, small at first, swelled as Foals took the stage. The United Kingdom natives are far more popular in England than the United States, but they still embraced a Providence audience able to chant back the lyrics of some of their most celebrated songs, including “Mountain At My Gates” and “My Number.”

The group reveled in its British identity, frequently throwing out expressions like, “We’re going to have a ruddy good time.” The crowd cooed at their elegant accents and begged for more.

Foals kicked off their set with “Snake Oil,” from the 2015 album, “What Went Down,” and propelled the energy forward by relying on an old 2008 favorite of theirs, “Olympic Airways.” The lead singer emphatically repeated the one-word chorus — “Disappear” — inserting breathy syllables into the short word.

The crowd erupted in cheer for “Providence.” Though not one of the band’s most popular songs, it may have been added to the setlist to please an audience who conflated the song’s namesake with its hometown. Feeding off the audience’s energy, the lead singer dove into the arms of the crowd, was absorbed by the masses and then appeared back on stage right just seconds later.

The lights dimmed as the band transitioned into “Spanish Sahara,” and crowd members raised their phones, flashlights glowing like fireflies in the arena setting. The song, intensely mellow relative to the energy that remained pulsating in the room following “Providence,” carried its own strength, crescendoing to a final lingering moment.

The rest of Foals’ act included a few more attempts at stage-diving — unsuccessful ones, as most of the front row seemed to be made up of braces-clad, unprepared teenagers, who were more excited about the prospect of chanting along to the band’s closer, “What Went Down,” than benching frontman Yannis Philippakis’s sweaty body.

The crowd of teenage girls was replaced with beer-brandishing 30- and 40-year-olds for Silversun Pickups, a band that has held its own on the indie scene since 2002. Their music is a true product of the 2000s — while led by synth-rock melodies, there’s a certain punk sound to lead vocalist and guitarist Brian Aubert’s range-defying voice, especially evident in “Lazy Eye,” the band’s most popular song.

Silversun Pickups’ style has evolved over the last 14 years, as exemplified by their 2015 album “Better Nature,” but their charismatic energy as a group has remained unwavering. They joked with each other on stage without stripping away intensity from their forward-moving soundscapes.

The group opened with “Cradle (Better Nature),” replete with overlapping chords and unrefined synth-pop sound. Moving on from that, they delivered a few of their older hits to a faithful crowd, then moved forward to their newest album once more with “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance),” sung by bassist Nikki Monninger.

“We’ve been here many times before,” Aubert said to the crowd before they began. “But Nikki couldn’t be here six years ago, because she was off giving birth to twins or something.”

He raised his hands, as if balancing two weights. “Rocking out, or the love of your children?” For Aubert, the scale tipped in favor of rock.

After a sizable set, the Silversun Pickups eventually gave into the wishes of the audience, delivering “Lazy Eye” as a final song. The performance sent beer cans soaring through the air.

Cage the Elephant closed the show with their characteristic clamoring piano and percussion, coupled with vocalist Matt Shultz’s crackling voice. The group opened with “Cry Baby,” also the opener of their latest album, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.”

Matching Shultz’s energy, the crowd began jumping along to “Spiderhead,” which led into a series of songs off of 2013’s “Melophobia.” The album is the group’s greatest success to date, and its songs dominated the setlist on Friday. Over a third of the setlist came from the charged, alternative rock record.

The audience leaned into the innovative transitions that punctuate songs throughout the album and cheered as the band powered through them with heightened energy.

To the dismay of arena security, five crowd surfers emerged during “Trouble,” their supine bodies lit by the hectic strobes and flashes onstage. At one point, one diver somehow made it all the way to the stage, where he headed to the back near drummer Jared Champion, then proceeded to charge toward the end of the stage, leaping face first into the crowd.

That wasn’t the only air achieved at the show. Shultz supplied his act with plenty of leaps, as he grabbed his microphone stand at the top, jumped with legs in squatting position and ascended several feet into the air.

Shultz disappeared halfway through “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” taking his microphone as he wandered through the crowd, voice still heard supplying the bluesy vocals to the slacker song. During other tunes, his microphone could be seen shoved down the front of his pants, where it remained secure as Shultz bounded from one side of the stage to the other, securing intense eye contact with the audience.

The band could move its crowd to head banging as easily as it could shift the mood to a melancholic nostalgia, as it did in “Telescope” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” Other groups joined Cage the Elephant on stage to accompany Shultz’s raw voice in chanting out the lyrics: “If we could find a reason, a reason to change / looking for the answer. If you could find a reason, a reason to stay / standing in the pouring rain.”

But as soon as that moment had ended, Shultz reclaimed the stage for the final two songs, “Shake Me Down” and “Teeth.” He stripped down and, shirtless, climbed into the crowd to belt out the final notes to the tour: “I wish I were an astronaut / Space case planting the seed.” There, floating on the hands of the crowd members and looking into the flashes of phones speckling the sides of the arena, he might have been one.