The past few months have been particularly dreadful for the music industry. The world lost iconic performers starting with Scott Weiland, followed by Lemmy Kilmister, then David Bowie and now Prince. These guys were legendary for their ability to captivate a crowd and deliver performances that would be unforgettable. After the loss of each of them, the usual barrage of social media rants would pop up lamenting on how there will never be another performer as entertaining as Prince or as badass as Lemmy. People complain that there are no more ‘true’ frontmen that can command a stage as well as these guys did.
What most people need to soon realize is that there is one frontman from a certain band from Bowling Green, Kentucky that should be in discussion as the best frontman in the game right now: Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant.
I finally had the opportunity to see Cage the Elephant live in Providence, Rhode Island last month, and as my friends and I walked out afterwards, we all were discussing how amazing Shultz was. I was thinking it, and my friends were confirming my thoughts on how he was incredibly fun and entertaining to watch. He was a ball of energy. His performance made it clear that he was put on this planet to be a singer.
Many different attributes make up the DNA of Shultz’s ability. He has a charisma that never seems forced. He genuinely looks like he wants to be up on stage, and being anywhere else would feel wrong. As much as I love The Strokes, Julian Casablancas can often give off the feeling that he is too cool to be playing a show, and looks bored. Matt Shultz is constantly running around every nook and cranny of the stage to keep the crowd alive or, really, to push them to a higher limit of excitement. He has as much fun as the crowd does, which is refreshing to see in 2016.
Shultz is also pretty good at that whole singing thing as well. His voice sounds great live, and it never gets drowned out by the band or the fans singing along. He has no problems going between the fast paced and the slower, more intimate songs throughout the set. When he feels like giving the crowd a break and relaxes for a slower tune like ‘Cigarette Daydreams’ he focuses even more on his vocals, and when he needs to bring the crowd back he can easily transform into an over-caffeinated human pogostick on the faster paced ‘Aberdeen’. It feels like he has a doctorate degree in the psychology of the crowd in front of him, and has planned his setlist accordingly.
In addition to his voice, he is also fearless when it comes to sacrificing his body to give the fans something to remember. In the past, he has jumped off things like a crazed professional wrestler. From stages to huge stacks of amps and even balconies, Shultz has made some terrifying leaps of faith into the crowd. Last year he became the first person to crowdsurf the entire length of Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, Colorado, which should be worthy of a trophy. He will do what it takes to leave his own stamp on a show to make it worthy of what he deems rock n’ roll.
When it comes down to it, Shultz is a pure showman. He has the swagger (sorry in advance) of a Jagger. He has the charisma of Axl Rose in his prime, mixed with the tenacity of a punk singer when the time calls for it. He has a voice that would sound great in a small club or an arena, and he isn’t afraid to pull off a stunt for the sake of thousands of jaws hitting the floor in amazement. When seeing Cage the Elephant live, you are in for something spectacular. Matt Shultz is the answer to all the naysayers complaining about how the world doesn’t have any true frontmen anymore. If you’re on the fence about paying money to see Cage live, just do it. It’s guaranteed that you’ll be doing what I did after seeing them: discussing the awesomeness of Matt Shultz. He’s pretty damn good at his job.
(Top) Photo by Pooneh Ghana, courtesy of Cage The Elephant’s Facebook page.