Music Review: Cage the Elephant

It’s Wednesday at 3:30, and I’m waist deep in a rousing treatise on the technical differences between something and another thing, or something. Only five more hours of legal research, and then it’s dinnertime. The best kind of dinnertime, in fact: Spaghetti Night at Latitude 32. Something that somehow makes spending a beautiful, sunny day in the LRC worth it.

My phone buzzes. “FREE SECRET SURPRISE SHOW.” Surprises at the low cost of free-99? Yeah, I’m interested. The follow-up text has me immediately packing up my stuff and hightailing it out of the reading room: “CAGE THE ELEPHANT at 4 pm, Hodad’s in OB.”

I pull onto Newport Avenue at 3:55 and score a parking spot all of 30 feet from the front door. There are 40 people in line, but it may as well be 40,000. No way we’re all getting in. There are another 50 or so crowded around the open front windows of the place. I take a quick lap around the building hoping for some cooks on a smoke break who won’t care if I sneak stealth-like through the kitchen. No such luck.

I’m about to offer the guy at the door the whole $6 in my wallet when my friend texts me from inside. “The line is for food. Walk in.” Done deal. I’d bet one third of those poor schmoes in line and crowded around the windows made the same assumption I did. Oh well, because next thing I’m ten feet away from the makeshift stage and Cage hasn’t even made their appearance.

Cage the Elephant

The guys, sipping from mini mason jars of dark beer and all looking casually unkempt, made their way through the packed restaurant to a robust round of applause and shrill catcalls. They jump right into “2024,” a song with a fun jive that teeter-tooters back and forth from punk-rock grunge to easy and almost sweet.

“Around My Head” is next on the set list. This one is catchy and has a crowd-friendly series of monkey calls as a main part of the chorus. Next up is by far their most popular song: “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” I’ve heard this song a dozen times but just realized how much it reminds me of Sublime’s “April 29, 1992.” It’s catchy and fatalist and makes it feel OK to be a little pissed off. A cover of a Let’s Wrestle song, one more from their latest album, and that’s it.

Twenty minutes after thanking everyone for being there, they’re thanking everyone for being there (again). The whole thing was rather anti-climactic, but their music is fun and a little funky and feels garage-band rough at times. All in all, they left me with a lingering taste of something I want more of; and they proved to be the perfect tool for my procrastination.

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