I made the trip up the interstate to Kentucky’s largest city to see one of it’s biggest current stars. As Louisville, KY hosted one of the biggest rock tours of the Summer, The Black Keys and Kentucky’s own Cage The Elephant were set to take the stage at the KFC YUM! Center. This was my first trip to the YUM! Center or as basketball fans call it, The Chicken Bucket. I’d heard all the tales of how beautiful the arena’s interior is, but I wasn’t prepared to see just how marvelous it really was. Hands down, the nicest arena in the state and one of the nicest arenas I’ve ever set foot in.
Kicking things off were the Kentucky sons, Cage The Elephant. Dressed in a leopard print cape, vocalist Matt Schultz came out commanding the attention of everyone in attendance. Dancing around as if he were the love child of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger, Schultz led the charge as the band tore through an absolutely blistering set. Their high energy was not wasted on the Louisville crowd, as they did their best to match the bands intensity.
One funny moment saw the band bringing the Kentucky basketball rivalry to the stage. Drummer Jared Champion sported a Louisville Cardinals basketball t-shirt, while bassist Daniel Tichenor wore a University of Kentucky basketball jersey. Jared immediately took to the mic to have Daniel promptly booed by the Louisville crowd. It was a fun moment to see and you’ve gotta love a little onstage rivalry!
The set was a very high energy one and at one point, Matt took to the crowd and surfed his way about 20 people deep. Then, he stood up. Standing on the hands of the fans and bringing the music to the people. It was a moment you only dream about. Something you never get to witness and it was incredible. Cage The Elephant’s sound has really evolved, or some would say devolved, as they’ve stripped it down to an almost garagey sound. Keeping the pop elements, but shifting away from their influences. Whatever it has become, it’s working, as the crowd ate them up and showed the band a massive amount of love.
It’s always special to see an artist in their hometown or home state, so I was honored to get the chance to see the band on such a massive stage. Crowd favorites included In One Ear, Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Take It Or Leave It, Shake Me Down, current single Cigarette Daydreams and the set closing, massive hit Come A Little Closer.
With a parting salute, Jared popped his shirt to the Louisville crowd. Threw up the L sign and they were gone. Like a devastating storm, Cage The Elephant blew through Louisville and destroyed everyone in attendance. Simply put, it was incredible.
Cage The Elephant:
Akron, OH duo The Black Keys have created a name for themselves with simple, blues tinged music that’s catchy, enjoyable and easy to remember. Their hits are some of the biggest crossover hits out there today. With success on the pop, rock and alternative charts, there’s no wonder the YUM Center was packed to the upper rim. (With the upper level closed off.) Their groovy sounds filled the arena as not one individual wasn’t clapping, singing or bobbing their heads along.
While the showmanship was quite a contrast to that of Cage The Elephant, The Black Keys were equally entertaining. Albeit in a totally different way. Feeling every note, guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach delivered a spot-on performance. While drummer Patrick Carney delivered the right parts at the right moment. His style has never been to outshine the song and his performance was solid, intriguing and what true musicianship is all about.
During the 1-1/2 hour set, The Black Keys touched upon moments that spanned their entire career. From slow grooves, to dancy high energy dance beats, the band truly delivered. Crowd favorites included Dead And Gone, Nova Baby, Gold On a The Ceiling, Money Maker, Howlin’ For You, Fever, Lonely Boy, my favorite Little Black Submarines and the classic I Got Mine.
While I had my doubts about the coupling of the two bands, I have to say it was a delightful combination. With the energy that Cage The Elephant brings, the crowd is more than ready to set back and enjoy the groove that The Black Keys are more than happy to provide. So do yourself a favor and find yourself a tour date here.
The Black Keys: