Still riding high on the release of their fourth album, last year’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, local (by way of Bowling Green) breakout rockers and friends of the site Cage the Elephant are set to headline Ascend Amphitheater for the first time tonight, May 19 with Portugal. The Man and BRONCHO. Tiny pop up club shows, special fan-centric events, and festival spots aside, it’s actually been a couple years since the band have hosted a local show large enough for the general public, and you can rest assured, big stage or tiny room, the energy, intensity, and unpredictability of a Cage the Elephant show is like nothing else. Tickets are going fast, but you can still snag ’em right here while they last (including lawn seats at a special $20 price). Find out all about the lineup below!
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
Formed a decade ago in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and based in Nashville for the last few years, eclectic rockers Cage the Elephant are undoubtedly one of the biggest grassroots musical success stories in modern rock. Anchored by brothers Matt (vocals) and Brad (guitar) Shultz, and rounded out by Jared Champion (drums) and Daniel Tichenor (bass), the longtime friends had all taken part in various other musical projects in the Bowling Green scene, and worked odd jobs until forming and deciding to funnel all of their focus into Cage. After briefly living in London, the band scored a record deal, and found near-instant success with their platinum selling breakout single “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” from their eponymous 2008 debut. With a swam of tv appearances, festival outings, and tours, the group began to settle into their own, trading the more blues, classic, and garage rock tendencies of their debut for a decidedly more punk and alternative direction with sophomore effort Thank You, Happy Birthday.
By 2013’s Grammy nominated Melophobia, Cage, squarely planted in Nashville, had not only cemented their status as one of the best, most energetic live bands on the planet, touring with the likes of Foo Fighters, Manchester Orchestra, Queens of the Stone Age, and Muse, but had finally settled into a sound all their own, building upon what came before, while further pushing genre boundaries and incorporating elements of psychedelic rock, letting their expansive, confident artistry flourish. The band, now certifiable rockstars and festival staples, worked with Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach on last year’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, tracked largely live and analog and marking a more personal, nostalgic sound that calls back to their earliest influences. Versatile, authentic, and unparalleled, Cage the Elephant, whether blowing the roof off of big arenas or rocking out to a couple hundred fans (as they still often do in Nashville – how many bands their size can say that?) are, perhaps, the best rock band in the world right now, and as amazing as their growing catalog is already, it’s their live show that you have to see to believe.
PORTUGAL. THE MAN
It’s been nearly three years since the release of Portugal. The Man’s last album, Evil Friends. Not an unusual gap for most acts, but for a prolific, ever-evolving band who dropped seven LPs in under nine years, the wait for album eight truly feels like an eternity. Hailing originally from Wasilla, Alaska, but headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, PTM’s origins actually came from the premature demise of vocalist John Gourley and bassist Zach Carothers’ prior project, emo/screamo band Anatomy of a Ghost. For more recent Portugal fans, they might sound a bit surprising, but the group’s only two permanent members (they’ve otherwise seen a revolving door of contributors) definitely cut their teeth in the punk and emo world, and even PTM’s earliest Fearless Records releases, press coverage, and tourmates reflected this, albeit with a layer of experimental rock on top, which would guide their sound as it evolved throughout the years.
Portugal. The Man’s breakthrough isn’t something that happened over night, but something they’ve been building and earning for over a decade, touring relentlessly, pushing their psychedelic, progressive, and experimental indie sound to new heights with each release, and earning a fanbase organically with their tireless work ethic. While no single release or song found instant success, it’s a culmination of everything, impressive and essential in its own way, that has made them a beloved, popular act; their sophomore effort Church Mouth found early buzz, 2009’s The Satanic Satanist flexed their musical range, while Evil Friends, helmed by super producer Dangermouse, showed off just how huge and nuanced their songs could be with the right amount of collaboration and extra attention. One of the most interesting and enduring rock bands in recent memory, and incredible live performers to boot, PTM are perfectly paired with Cage on this tour. They’re apparently working with The Beastie Boys’ Mike D on a new LP called Gloomin + Doomin, so expect to hear some new (and, in typical PTM fashion, totally different) tracks live!
Oklahoma indie rockers BRONCHO formed in 2010, making a strong debut with 2011’s Can’t Get Past the Lips. Rereleased in 2013, just before snagging placement on HBO’s Girls, the band were beginning to find a significant amount off buzz by the time of their sophomore effort, Just Hip Enough to Be a Woman, in 2014. Combining elements of early punk, modern indie, and ’80s alternative rock, all balanced with laid back sensibilities and a subdued, edgy, bite, BRONCHO seem to be experimenting in sound and layers even further with their upcoming third album, Double Vanity, due out later this month. Hear a taste below, and be sure to show up early so you can see them in action!
Cage the Elephant, Portugal. The Man, and BRONCHO will perform tonight, May 19 at Ascend Amphitheater. The show is all ages, begins at 7 p.m. (doors at 5:30 p.m.), and tickets are available for $20-46.