As the sun set on night one of the Wayhome Music & Arts Festival, a clear pearly pink with streaks of orange, the glowing yellow sliver of the moon peeking out from behind the pink clouds, Cage the Elephant took to the main Wayhome stage. While they may not have been the main headliner for that night (Flume took that honour), they put on a show worthy of a headlining act, complete with pyrotechnics and a confetti finale.
If you’re familiar with the band, you may have heard of front man, Matthew Schultz, and his unpredictable, high energy stage antics. After seeing it live, you’ll realize that “high energy” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Honestly, there really isn’t a word strong enough to describe it. Like a flash of lightning, he darts across the stage, singing at the top of his lungs, throwing around the microphone stand, jumping in and out of the crowd (at one point the back of his shirt was ripped by the many hands clamouring to grab a piece of this mini Mick Jagger). It should also be mentioned that Shultz chose to throw it back to good ol’ 1970’s Rock n’ Roll with his long sleeved red blouse tucked into his black flared pants, as if to make this comparison even more convincing.
Matthew Schultz wasn’t the only one to dive headfirst into the crowd. Guitarist (and brother) Brad Schultz began the set with a solo out on the amp, before eventually going right into the crowd for a guitar solo. Quite a few lucky fans got to witness his riffs within touching distance. Stage presence must run in the family.
While it’s not uncommon for performers to delve into the audience while they’re performing, there was something special about the way Cage the Elephant did it. It felt so genuine and raw, not like some sort of rehearsed gimmick to keep the energy alive. They didn’t need to- the energy of the crowd was thriving from start to finish. It’s as if they decided a split second before whether or not they were going to do something, and then they just did it. This spontaneity led to an incredible performance.
Now, no show would be complete without the proper set of songs, and Cage the Elephant certainly paid service to their fans. Everyone got a chance to sing along to “Trouble,” “Come a Little Closer,” Cigarette Daydreams,” “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” and “Too Late To Say Goodbye.” During the latter, a red puff of smoke appeared, engulfing Schultz as he sang the bridge of the song.
However, they didn’t solely rely on stage effects to put on an unforgettable show. In the beginning, Shultz says he won’t be speaking as much and he will let their music speak for them. Halfway through, he breaks his silence by sharing a mini speech (with just a hint of a southern accent): “We are Cage the Elephant from Nashville, Tennessee. I should say residing in Nashville, we’re actually from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a small little town outside Nashville. But, I just wanna say this real quick. There’s a lot of hate in this world, there’s a lot of division in this world, a lot of separation. So, I would love to take this time, take this night, and celebrate love. I want you guys to be a part of that. Remember there’s only one race on this planet. Only one race- the human race. Let’s celebrate that.”
Unity through music became the theme of the entire festival. Many of the musical artists were American, and unity is clearly a cause close to their hearts, considering current political circumstances. At the very least, Cage the Elephant succeeded in uniting us all in a celebration of music, art, and performance. For an hour, those watching were entirely absorbed, forgetting all “Trouble” on their mind.
For those left wanting more, the band also released their acoustic live album “Unpeeled,” the very same day that they performed at the Wayhome stage. Stay tuned for a review of the album coming soon!