If you have never been to a Cage the Elephant concert, you’ve ever experienced what real live music is supposed to feel like. Despite the scorching heat, they put on an incredible show that those in attendance will be talking about for years to come. With openers Willow Avalon, Bakar, and the incredible Young the Giant, Phoenix will never be the same.

Young the Giant

While Young the Giant is no stranger to a live performance, those wheels have no rust. Every band member plays their part with such a passion, it’s beautiful to watch. Sameer Gadhia has such an easy-going swagger about him that is coated in a deep fire and love for performing. The rest of the band backs him wholeheartedly, matching his energy without missing a beat. 

For their third song, the band performed ‘Cough Syrup’. The song needed no introduction, the first few notes eliciting screams from the crowd. It was a bit of an interesting shift into their fourth song ‘Heat of the Summer’ but a welcomed one. the irony of the song wasn’t lost on the sweating crowd but their energy stayed up for the song. Gadhia’s voice during the song was so full and sounded better than it does on the recorded track. Despite the actual heat, the crowd couldn’t help but dance to the track.

Before ‘Mind Over Matter’, Gadhia gave a beautiful speech about the popularity of the song happening years after the release. And as the band performed, it was clear how much it meant to them. Watching this song live was incredible. The entire venue could feel the force behind every note, and they all sang along. This carried all the way to the end of the set for an incredible performance of ‘My Body’. Even after the band left the stage, there was still a hum in the air.

I almost want to tell the band thank you after watching them perform. Their love of the craft is so evident in their performances and they gave 110% to each and every song. It was overwhelming and deeply moving.

Cage The Elephant

Watching Cage the Elephant felt exactly how live music should make you feel. Pyro, lasers, and intricate lighting design all make for a visually appealing show, but the music ties it all together. It’s the driving force of the performance and for Cage the Elephant, it is still so obviously what fuels them. Watching them perform was a dream. You get sucked in, your eyes fixated so heavily on them that it almost feels intrusive. The music comes alive and you cannot help but feel an overwhelming joy run through you. 

From the photo pit, the energy was immense and incredible. So much so, that you almost wonder if those on the lawn can feel it. From my seat in section 302 (almost the lawn), I can assure you that you absolutely can. As you listen to Matthew Schultz belt out hits like ‘Neon Pill’,  ‘Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked’, or ‘Skin and Bones’, and you hear the roar of the crowd, there is an indescribable feeling that overtakes you. He and the band perform with a fervor that almost makes you forget you’re standing in 100+ degree heat, literally. He actually even jokingly let us know that his feet were sweating so bad his toes had pruned up, which we didn’t doubt. Arizona heat is no joke, especially this summer. And yet, the entire band gave us a performance that was so electric and full of energy. You almost feared they may pass out from heat stroke.

For a crowd pleasing encore, the band played ‘Shake Me Down’, ‘Cigarette Daydream’, and ‘Come A Little Closer’. Feeling the venue literally shake as Matthew encouraged the crowd to scream “Time… flies… by… They all sing along,” was a religious experience, actually.

Shultz’s stage presence is a joy to watch. His body moves and jumps in a way that almost feels like he has to – as if the music coming out of him was so intense that his body couldn’t help but react. His brother, guitarist Brad Shultz, carries a similar energy, constantly screaming the words and rocking out heavy on his guitar. Bass guitarist Daniel Tichenor opts for a bit softer stage presence, as most bass players do. However, this does not equal boring. The way he plays is mesmerizing, his cool demeanor creating a mysterious air you can’t help but watch. Lead guitarist Nick Borath, on the other hand, is another story. He has an incredibly infectious smile, one he wears often while he’s playing. 

As a unit, Cage the Elephant is the quintessential rock concert experience. Exciting visuals paired with energetic stage presence and music that overtakes the amphitheatre. Leaving the venue was like a zombie walk, everyone knowing they just witnessed magic and wondering how they would ever feel that again.

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