Words + Photos by Ava Butera
On the eve before the craziness of Lollapalooza hit, I made sure I was present at the Chicago stop of The Night Running Tour featuring Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Wild Belle. Ever since I got wind of this co-headliner, I had been counting down the days until July 31st - eager to see two of my all-time favorite bands share the stage.
As I entered the venue, opener (and Chicago-natives) Wild Belle opened the show to a rather sparse crowd. Soon enough, with their sultry vocals, infectious instrumentation, and powerful stage presence, the crowd of few grew in size as attendees quickly shuffled into their seats to witness the band’s performance. As their short set came to a close, I found myself immediately whipping out my phone to download their music on Spotify. Talented bands like Wild Belle are hard to come by.
Shortly after Wild Belle’s set commenced, next up was Spoon -- Indie-rock darlings hailing from the indie capital of the world, Austin, TX. The opened up their set with the acoustic guitar-driven “Knock Knock Knock” that starts out slow but soon enough erupts into a crescendoing track. Spoon quickly went straight into “No Bullets Spent”, keeping their set a little mellow. Despite that, the crowd was absolutely loving it, screaming every lyric and dancing in the aisles. Soon enough, the band went straight into the Van Morrison-sounding classic, “The Underdog”, and the crowd was absolutely in awe of lead singer Britt Daniel’s stage presence. As the set progressed, Spoon played other notable hits such as “Hot Thoughts”, “Inside Out”, and of course closing out their performance with “Rent I Pay”.
Then, after about a half hour later, Cage the Elephant graced the stage -- each member dashing out on stage. Before he even ran out, the crowd had their phones recording, waiting to catch a glimpse of lead singer Matt Shultz and his infectious presence. Opening the set with “Broken Boy” and the quickly moving into “Cry Baby” and “Spiderhead”, fans could hardly take a breath. As I watched Shultz run through the crowd in his ‘Black Madonna’ garb for the tour and new album cycle, I was awestruck. And while I was fixated on Matt, I quickly noticed the crowd shift toward the opposite side of the pit. Guitarist Brad Shultz ambushed the crowd to play a little guitar amongst the fans. A Cage the Elephant performance is truly like no other.
Throughout the rest of the set, iconic tracks such as “Cold Cold Cold”, “Mess Around”, “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, and of course “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Teeth” were played and to great response of course!