Music News & Reviews

Get ready for a crazy night of rock music at Cage the Elephant’s Spring Fling

Cage the Elephant isn’t the band it was in 2009, when its song “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” hit No. 3 on Billboard’s alternative rock chart and catapulted the Kentucky rockers into some mainstream success.

And it’s not the same band it was three years ago, even, when it released the album “Melophobia.”

“We’re a band that continues to grow,” says Brad Shultz, guitarist for the alternative rockers, whose Spring Fling tour stops Friday, March 11, at the Save Mart Center.

That growth is reflected on Cage the Elephant’s latest effort, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Released in December, the album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys at a studio in Nashville and features some of the band’s most forceful and focused work.

Every record the band has made has been the result of what it learned from the one before it, Shultz says. In that way, “Tell Me I’m Pretty” was informed by the experience of making “Melophobia,” he says.

“That was really a hellacious record to go through ... Off the back side of that, we really did find our voice.”

The tracks on “Tell Me I’m Pretty” are concise and punchy, with a 1960s garage-pop feel that Shultz describes as “a psychedelic John Wayne at an Iggy Pop show.” Where the band was once obvious in its influences and songwriting, here it holds back when needed.

“You don’t have to pile on every idea,” Shultz says in a phone interview during a break from touring.

The band has just returned from a three-week tour in Europe and the United Kingdom, where it played songs from the album in a live tour setting, for the first time. It now kicks off the U.S. tour in support the album.

Fresno is the first stop on the Spring Fling tour, which includes opening acts Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands. All three openers are friends of the band, Schultz says. Each has toured with Cage the Elephant before, just never at the same time.

“Our idea was to get all our really good buddies on the road,” he says, with the idea of hitting secondary markets that might not get these kind of tours often. “Some of the crazier nights on tour have always been in markets like Fresno.”

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee

Spring Fling tour openers at a glance

Silversun Pickups

▪ Hometown: Silverlake.

▪ Known for: Sonically layered atmospheric and epic indie rock. The tour’s most veteran act, the band was a product of Los Angeles’ Silverlake music scene, which spawned Rilo Kiley and others, and found mass appeal in the mid-2000s with its debut “Carnavas.” Gamers will know the track “Lazy Eye” from “Rock Band 2” and “Guitar Hero.”


▪ Hometown: Oxford, England

▪ Known for: Its high-energy live performances. The band recently made the jump from playing clubs (and before that house shows) to big-level arena tours. Its latest single “Mountain at My Gates” hit No. 1 on the Mediabase alternative radio airplay chart earlier this month – knocking Cage the Elephant from the spot.

Bear Hands

▪ Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

▪ Known for: Electronic indie-rock with definite hip-hop vibes, as heard on the 2013 track “Gigantic.” This New York buzz band has shared stages with Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit and MGMT, was featured on some big festival dates in 2014 (Lollapalooza, Made in America, Great Escape Festival) and made it to Fresno a time or two. Bear Hand’s new album “You’ll Pay For This,” is out April 15.

Spring Fling tour