Matt Schultz of Cage the Elephant // Paul Piazza
By Paul Piazza
After tonight’s Justin Bieber show, there are only eight Sacramento Kings games, three concerts and the state high school basketball championships left on the Sleep Train Arena schedule, assuming the Golden 1 Center downtown opens on time. And even though the old building will likely shake when Sir Mix a-Lot does “Baby Got Back” during Friday’s Legends of Hip Hop show, it probably won’t ever get rocked again quite like it did during last Saturday’s Radio 94.7 Spring Fling.
On a cold, rainy evening, fast-rising artists Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands shared the arena stage. Although the crowd was on the small side—approximately 4,000 in an arena which holds 17,000—the tour brought in an enormous lighting production rig and four in-demand indie rock bands.
First up was Bear Hands, whose post-punk, indie rock sounds were familiar to many in the still-filling early arena crowd. Next up was Foals, the indie rock band from Oxford, England fronted by Greek-born powerhouse Yannis Philippakis. Whereas Bear Hands singer Dylan Rau was a bit sublime, Phillippakis worked the stage like a runaway locomotive. When not playing guitar and singing behind the mic, he swung wildly around the stage, changing directions dramatically during big tunes like “Mountain At My Gates” and “What Went Down.”
Yannis Philippakis of Foals // Paul Piazza
Silversun Pickups have been around since 2000, giving them the longest tenure of the four bands. Last year’s release Second Nature, wasn’t as well received as their previous two albums but singer Brian Aubert sang as if his life depended on it. One of the band’s best received songs was 2008's “Panic Switch,” which featured some great bass playing from the night’s only female musician, Nikki Monninger.
Finally, Cage the Elephant hit the stage. Although its latest album Tell Me I’m Pretty didn’t chart as high as its past two records—do people buy albums anymore?— the live show has gained tremendous word-of-mouth attention, mostly due to singer Matt Shultz and his fearless, engaging stage antics.
Cage the Elephant // Paul Piazza
There aren’t many singers out there who work the boards like 32-year-old Shultz. He dances on one leg, he hops, he twirls and leaps at the audience with mic in hand. The bonus for this particular show was that guitarist Brad Shultz, the singer’s older brother, was feeling the need to engage the audience just as much. He actually spent more time in the crowd than his baby brother. With a double Shultz attack, songs like “Portuguese Knife Fight” and “Shake Me Down,” and a set that totaled out at 21 songs, ensured that fans who stuck around for the whole thing got their money’s worth. Tickets averaged about $33.
The biggest question at the end of the night wasn’t about these bands, rather, will Sacramento come out and support great indie rock shows like this one? Will the downtown arena make a difference?