Chicago – Boy, has Cage the Elephant has come quite a long way since its early days of playing small clubs throughout the South and Midwest! I recall seeing the Kentucky rock band play the Aragon Ballroom, on New Year’s Eve, in Chicago, to ring in 2011, just before the band was set to release its sophomore album Thank You, Happy Birthday (which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and was praised as “one of the best rock albums of the year”). As I snuck up to the balcony with my camera, and watched the balloons fall from the ceiling while the band popped champagne on stage, I knew then this band was destined for bigger and better stages. Sure enough, following the release of Cage the Elephant’s fourth studio album, the band is on a North American headlining arena tour.
Back then, Cage the Elephant was still performing in support of its debut self-titled release and determined to find enough success to get out of Bowling Green, Kentucky – the band’s hometown – for good. After signing with the U.K. label Relentless Records in 2007, the then five-piece moved to England to begin recording its first album. In 2008, the band released Cage the Elephant. The album’s platinum single, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” quickly become a radio staple. Cage the Elephant toured with Queens of the Stone Age, Silversun Pickups, and Manchester Orchestra, and the band also began working the festival circuit, performing at music fests like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. The band’s sophomore album saw yet another radio hit, with ”Shake Me Down,” but it was Cage the Elephant’s third album, Melophobia, which took the band to new heights, producing two Number One singles on the Alternative charts: “Come a Little Closer” in 2013 and “Cigarette Daydreams” in 2014.
The Grammy-nominated four-piece – comprised of brothers Matthew (lead vocals, guitar) and Brad Shultz (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Jared Champion (drums, percussion), and Daniel Tichenor (bass guitar, backing vocals) – is currently touring in support of 2015′s Tell Me I’m Pretty (RCA Records), which features the single “Mess Around.” Cage the Elephant has been on tour with Portland band Portugal. The Man, Broncho, and Twin Peaks. On tour, the band becomes a six-piece, with Matthan Minster (keyboards/guitar) and Nick Bockrath (lead guitar) joining the mix, to amplify the sound. Cage the Elephant puts on a phenomenal live show, with Matt Shultz being a star performer, who reveals himself “to be a dedicated and tireless professional with an astute attention to detail.”
Tell Me I’m Pretty has Cage the Elephant treading new ground – compared to the band’s last record: 2013’s Melophobia, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album – drawing from the sounds, like surf rock and lo-fi garage rock, that initially inspired Cage the Elephant to begin creating music. The album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Florence + the Machine), and recorded at Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, Tennessee. Tell Me I’m Pretty has been praised by critics as the band’s best album to date.
Cage the Elephant is set to perform in its adoptive hometown of Nashville, on May 19th, at Ascend Amphitheater. From there, it’s off to the Midwest, including a stop in Chicago, before heading to the West Coast. Visit Cage the Elephant’s Facebook page for a full list of tour dates.
Photo Credit: Ira Chernova
After attending The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Sarah went on to study education at Dominican University, earning a degree in history. When not teaching, writing, or taking in a show, she is most likely to be found with a camera to her eye or hanging out in a darkroom.
You can follow Sarah Hess on twitter at @Sarahhasanh and view her music photography on her website: smhimaging.com.