Being that I’m a cynical ass and this here is a “Music From Ireland” showcase, for a brief moment I fully expected that I’d be starting this recap with a joke about potatoes, or maybe car bombs (the drink), or Lucky Charms, or car bombs (the unconscionable acts of Euro-terrorism), or the pompousness of Bono, or… well, gosh, the possibilities are endless!
So much for that plan: Giveamanakick deserve to be taken seriously. The diagonal engine-revving of the opening guitar riff caught me in the throat as soon as I walked in, and the next forty minutes were positively unrelenting. Train-wreck-in-a-box vocals, Tom Morello vertical contours, guttural kick drum rolls, and, at one point, a power chord juxtaposed against a droning high E string which were positively transcendent together, especially in this particular context.
See, the depth of arrangement was stunning for a duo, but at the same time, with just two grumbling Irishmen on stage, it was almost like a minimalist reduction of punk—the genuinely aggressive kind, not just the regional-flavor Dropkick Murphy thing. That’s still an oversimplification, though: It was too jagged and prog-rock and stuttering and, well, too admirable and difficult. I’ve met a fair number of punk rock kids over the years, and they generally can’t do anything remotely like this because they just don’t practice enough. It’s not actually loose and reckless—you just have to make it look that way.
Having discovered these guys, CMJ suddenly makes sense again. The sheer number of shows and the alarming who-the-hell-is-that ratio can be pretty intimidating, and sometimes enough to overcome even the most meticulous of logistical organization attempts. But all across the city, new under-appreciated treasures are popping up in front of music lovers as if in a game of rock-and-roll Whack-A-Mole. Eat that, Guitar Hero. I stumbled upon this accidentally, instead expecting the Autodrone set that’s going down a couple blocks away, but it’s far and away the best thing I’ve seen this week so far. I’ve been drinking sponsored-by-Red-Bulls for days, but come tomorrow morning I’ll finally be re-energized for real.
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article