It started with a bang, a crash of thunder echoing from the dark clouds above the Troutdale venue. Hours before the gates were set to open, a huge line was already gathered, braving the elements for a good spot on the field. With the thunder came a gust of wind and rain. Fans draped tarps over themselves, cinched up their raincoats, and held out for another break of sun before the next torrential downpour.
This describes what the three hours (for some eager fans) of waiting in line for the night’s show was like. Ten minutes of sun, 20 minutes of rain, 15 minutes of sun, 10 minutes of rain. It was a vicious cycle, and every time I checked the weather forecast, the prediction for the start of the show changed drastically. With no umbrellas allowed in the venue, we all hoped and prayed we’d stay dry.
By the time the doors opened around 5pm, the sky wasn’t looking too promising. Though some splotches of blue peaked through, our attention was on the monstrous dark cloud that lurched closer and closer in our direction. The crowd prepared for the worst.
As hundreds of attendees set up their chairs and blankets, some ran right to the stage to lock in their spot at the barricade, ready for the opener of the double headlining bill to take the stage. Twin Peaks kicked off the evening with their critically acclaimed garage punk, recently showcased on their album Down In Heaven. Though some audience members used this opening set as a time to purchase food and beverages, a lot of the crowd seemed to be getting into the band's energetic sound. A group at the very front and center of the barricade seemed very familiar with the band’s work, singing and dancing along to every track.
Though Twin Peaks rocked hard, the sound still wasn’t enough to fight off the initial dark cloud looming above us. At one point, a light shower began to fall upon the Edgefield patrons; however, nobody let that stop them from having the night they paid for. The shower passed within minutes and Twin Peaks seemed to convince the cloud that it wasn’t wanted. Blue sky began to take over.
Portugal. The Man came on stage in a new fashion. It’d been awhile since we’ve seen the Lords of Portland play an all-ages gig so the crowd was already hyped to see what the band had up their sleeves for the homecoming. The hype only rose as Portugal now had their own hype man in tow to get the energy flowing.
“Are you all ready for the Lords of Portland?” he screamed. “Everybody put your hands up!”
The self-proclaimed Lords then launched into their Evil Friends track “Hip Hop Kids.” The crowd went wild. Backed by a large banner depicting the image of a burning car, Portugal. The Man burned through track after track with a fiery shred I’d never heard from them before. While previous Portugal shows have had a synthier vibe, this particular set was driven by the guitar and bass more than anything, matching the rock sound and energy that Twin Peaks had set, and which Cage The Elephant was soon to exceed.
While the majority of the set was filled with tracks off of their latest 2013 record, the band threw in some older songs for longtime fans, as well as played one new track to be released on their upcoming LP, Gloomin + Doomin. Both old and new received an excited uproar from the crowd most familiar with the Lord's work.
After a set of about 12 songs, capped off by a version of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” that incorporated The Beatles famous “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” riff, the sky was clear. The gray clouds had turned to light blue, eventually turning darker blue as the sun started to descend, resting behind the trees. The beautiful sunset seemed to be the perfect way for the night’s final band to take the stage.
As Cage The Elephant readied themselves, many people got up from their chairs to move closer to the stage and into the pit. The crowd waiting by the barricade seemed to double in size. Everyone shuffled positions to get the best view just as the lights kicked in and the Elephants emerged.
The Kentucky rockers kicked off their 18-song set with “Cry Baby,” a track off of their latest album, Tell Me I’m Pretty. It was apparent that the audience was very familiar with the band’s latest release as a mass of voices sung along to every line.
There’s really no word in the English language to quite describe Cage The Elephant frontman Matt Schultz’s presence. Picture Mick Jagger. That may be the closest match. It’s a boisterous bounce, a manic movement, skidding from one side of the stage to the other, as his hair whips in the wind of his own jumps and dashes. Sporting a black-and-red striped suit jacket, Schultz floated across the stage, never missing a beat in his half drunken, garage rock howl.
Just as there may be no word to describe Schultz’s energy, there may be no word to describe the lights at a Cage The Elephant show. Words like beautiful, dazzling, blinding or hypnotic may come closest. With every guitar riff and drum beat, a stage full of lights set off a whole new visual aspect to the band’s music. Silhouetting the members, washing the crowd with a wave of light, or simply adding a sort of hallucinogenic strobe to the band's sound, there was no looking away from the spectacle their production provided.
Combining this light show with the band’s energy on stage, Cage The Elephant tore through a set of songs from varying albums and eras. Favorites like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” or “Cigarette Daydreams” brought the entirety of Edgefield into a singalong like no other, complete with mosh pits, crowd surfers and drunken screamers. The energy seemed to spread from the stage, through the lights, and out onto everyone in attendance.
As the night began to wind down and the three-song encore came to a close, the sky was now a dark, dark blue. Night had taken over, but there was no absence of light. The beauty of the sunset lived on through the stage, the music, the lighters held up in the crowd, and the unity that only music can bring. All we had to do was wait out the storm.