Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant • Young the Giant • Bakar • June 20, 2024 • Utah First Amphitheatre

Reviewed and Photographed by Logan Fang

Photo Credit: Logan Fang

Cage the Elephant kicked off their first tour in almost two years with a stunning performance at the Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre. The opening night of Cage the Elephant’s “Neon Pill” Tour drew throngs of dedicated fans from afar to the Utah stage for the anticipated performance, supported by rising solo artist Bakar and indie band Young The Giant. With their evocative stage presence and infectious hooks, it’s not surprising that Cage the Elephant has become a household name in contemporary indie over the years. In watching them live, I continued to find myself impressed by the sheer showmanship of the band coming off their two-year tour hiatus. 

Photo Credit: Logan Fang


The first artist to take the stage was UK native Bakar. The young artist maintained a quiet intensity throughout his set, pausing only once to address the crowd during his short performance. As the solo artist approached the mic, concertgoers greeted him with a somewhat lukewarm reception. Bakar opened with two of his newer releases, starting with “All In,” followed by “Right Here, for Now.” His unique blend of modern R&B with indie-rock sensibilities made for an entertaining set that gradually won over the initially reserved crowd.

As he made his way through some of his more recognizable hits, young fans in the audience rose to their feet to dance to Bakar’s catchy hooks. While I recalled hearing many of his songs like “Alive!” and “Hell N Back” on TikTok, I never knew that Bakar was the artist behind those familiar hits. But upon listening to him live, I was impressed by just how much his performance sounded like his recordings. And like many rising artists today, Bakar’s accrued most of his following through his viral hits on online platforms. His most popular earworm “Hell N Back” is his biggest breakout track to date. The song is bouncy and warm, filled with breezy synths and vintage drums, a song perfect for a sunset on a Utah summer evening.

Photo Credit: Logan Fang

Bakar’s brief performance included a cover of Dominic Fike’s “3 Nights,” a dance-inducing favorite among the younger generation of indie fans. After wrapping up his set, Bakar dashed off stage to do a quick meet and greet with a few fans who requested selfies with the English artist. 

Young the Giant

Photo Credit: Logan Fang

Following a brief wait, Young the Giant took the stage greeted by a roaring from the crowd. As each member walked into position one by one, rhythmic thumps sounded out across the audience to commence the iconic intro to the band’s hit “Jungle Youth.” Frontman Sameer Gadhia’s distorted vocals rang out across the amphitheater while the crowd jumped along to the song’s heavy basslines. During the solo, guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata stepped down onto the stage’s amps to perform an electrifying array of riffs right over the pit.

The band’s chemistry was palpable. Young the Giant took almost no breaks between songs as they moved through their recognizable hits like “Cough Syrup” and “Panoramic Girl.” Impressively, Gadhias vocals in these songs sounded just as good and controlled as they do on recordings. It’d make sense that in light of all the chaos on stage and the frenetic movement between solos that the band would sound much more unrefined and grungy when performing live, but this wasn’t the case.

Predictably, as their set came to a close, Young the Giant played some of their biggest hits including “Superposition” and “Silvertongue.” To finish of course, they played their much anticipated single “My Body.” Almost in unison halfway through the song, the crowd began waving their arms above their heads to the beat. The amphitheater became a wave of extended limbs, as the band sent hundreds of hands and phone flashlights up towards the sky. Like the band’s chemistry on the stage, there seemed to be a kind of harmony among the audience as if Young the Giant’s rhythmic melodies had brought everyone together. 

Cage the Elephant

At 9:30 sharp when the lights dimmed, the crowd erupted into cheers beckoning Cage the Elephant onto stage. After a suspenseful thirty second pause, band members dashed out onto stage shrouded in darkness as lead singer Matt Schultz approached the mic. Once he reached the front of the stage, searing flames erupted around the band in time for Schultz to begin singing the intro to “Broken Boy.” Each time the chorus began, flames unfurled from the stage to add to the track’s intensity. Throughout the song, Schultz waltzed across the stage in a retrofitted tuxedo while occasionally using his microphone stand as a pole vault to propel himself around.

Like any of their other concerts, their performance was certainly not lacking showmanship or theatrics during later songs like “Social Cues” EDM-like lasers flitted across the audience. Other times, Schultz would join his brother, the lead guitarist, in on intimate solos with the audience. The duo never shied away from stepping down from the stage to approach front-row fans. 

The band’s mere energy that they brought to their performance stole the show for me. During old hits like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” or selections from their 2015 album Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage the Elephant brought the same enthusiasm to the songs they’ve been playing for hoards of fans since their beginning in 2006. 

Other artists might get tired of performing their biggest hits, but Cage clearly hasn’t. It amazed me how Schultz in particular could summon that much stamina to last the 21-song set with minimal breaks to address the crowd. Given that Salt Lake City was the first stop of their Neon Pill tour, there was all the more anticipation for Cage the Elephant’s performance. Throughout songs, drones circled above the crowd documenting the band’s set.

Cage the Elephant’s newest release “Neon Pill” seemed to be a fan favorite among the Utah crowd as indie heads of all ages danced away to their performance of songs like “HiFi.” To wrap the night up, Cage the Elephant finished with a three-song encore featuring the classic “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Come a Little Closer.” From top to bottom, the band exuded an infectious energy that made their performance among the most entertaining I’ve seen. The sheer investment that each performer puts into their craft makes Cage the Elephant a must-see act.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *