LIVE MUSIC: Cults @ The Black Cat - 1/14/11

Let’s just get this out of the way: I had every expectation of starting another year of covering shows with a bang, and instead it began with a giant MEH.

Now before you get all up in arms, screaming “But I LOOOOOOVE CULTS” and “You’re a stupid head” hear me out. I love Cults too. There songs are impossibly catchy, impeccably written and without a doubt they put out one of the better albums of 2011, if not the most fun album.

But all of this does not a good live performance make.

Plagued by minor sound issues, a lackluster stage setup (they are on Sony after all) and a set length shorter than any self respecting opening band would attempt, Cults came and went from the Black Cat’s stage last Friday as if almost nothing happened. And for the most part these offenses can be easily forgiving, or at least explained.

Sound issues? No biggie, it happens. Better bands actually recover from it, but that’s neither here nor there. Stage setup? It seems like a band in their position might be a little more creative than simply hanging a movie screen behind them a few pretty lights, but hey, we’re talking about expectations really (remember, they are on Sony) so I’ll take the hit on that one. Short set list? Could almost forgive a band for that one, except I’ve seen lots of bands who don’t even have an EP out play longer. And they sure as hell didn’t just sell out 2 shows at one of the best clubs in the country.

Madeline Follin of Cults @ The Black Cat All of this though, is completely beside the point, because the fact remains that Cults simply aren’t ready to be a touring band. Seemingly content to simply get by on the on the fact that people actually knew their songs, guitarist Brian Oblivion and singer Madeline Follin, cruised through a mostly emotionless set that proved to be more of a race to the finish line than and enjoyable evening with your friends, Cults.

To be fair, they did play all of their “hits”, but that’s beside the point. I don’t care how good your songs are (and let’s face it, “Abducted” and “Go Outside” are insanely good songs) if you perform them, in front of actual people, like you don’t give a shit, well then neither can I.

Now maybe, just maybe it was the fact that they simply aren’t capable of playing two shows in one night yet. That’s hard for anyone, and Oblivion even commented that they had been “drinking a bit” between the two shows. At the end of the day though as a musician, if you’re gonna take the people’s money to see you perform, you’ve got to actually perform, and right up to the very end when the band announced they weren’t leaving the stage for an encore (a trick that only works if you’ve just delivered a 2 hour set, not a 40 minute one) Cults made it clear that they didn’t necessarily agree with that fact.

So do I think Cults are some horrible band now? Do I hate them? Hell no. Reviews like this are actually hard to write, because before everything I’m a music fan. In this case I just happen to be a music fan who was horribly let down. The facts are these though: As long as Cults stick to the studio, they’re going to have a long, fruitful career ahead of them, and based on their work, they f@#@ing deserve it. But if they get it in their head that they need to go out into the world and spread their gospel again, I would humbly submit that they might want to look into a program like  this to maybe figure out how to put on a halfway decent show next time.


Check out the rest of our shots from the show by clicking below

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