By April Dimmick
Serving as the opener for the extremely talent filled concert, the singer and songwriter Tiger Merritt took the Portland stage calmly. Only announcing his name when an audience member shouted out the request, Tiger’s humble attitude matched with his very skillful use of the acoustic guitar definitely suggests he may be one to keep an eye on. Tiger’s shoulder length blonde hair occasionally shadowed his face as he was playing and his lyrical content appeared heartfelt, giving me the impression that Tiger is a very introspective artist. Tiger gives the audience the feeling that he is letting himself become vulnerable before their eyes, rather than create an artificial alter ego. In regards to his use of harmonies and folk influence, his music reminded me of Fleet Foxes. Sticking out to me the most of all, his song “Crystalline” featured guitar licks that seemed derived from the Middle-Eastern Phrygian dominant scale, giving it an air of exotic beauty. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by Tiger’s performance and after doing some digging I found that he is actually a part of a larger band called Morning Teleportation. Definitely worth a listen!
As a fan of the British band Foals since High School, I was ecstatic to see them play. Foals is made up of Yannis Philippakis (lead singer/guitar), Jack Bevan (drums), Jimmy Smith (electric guitar), Walter Gervers (bass) and Edwin Congreave (keyboard). As Yannis and Jack were both originally members of a math rock band, you can certainly see its influence by the way in which they use atypical dissonances and sometimes irregular rhythmic structures. However, the band members have stated they do not label Foals as an entirely math rock band. While I have heard some criticize the lack of edge or drama in Yannis’ voice, I have had to respectfully disagree. During their song “Spanish Sahara”, Yannis’ voice floats hauntingly over the vast soundscape created by his fellow band mates. Jack’s drumming contributes much of the rhythmic intrigue and each instrumentalist tastefully contributes to the overall unique sound. As many of the audience members I spoke to had attended to see Cage the Elephant and were primarily unfamiliar with Foals, the band still managed to get the audience jumping and feeling the energy, especially during “Inhaler”. Foals undoubtedly put on a fantastic show and I was pleased to hear that the quality of their album’s sound was translated into a great live show.
Fueled by an anxiously anticipating crowd, Cage the Elephant was welcomed with intense excitement and the band delivered exceptionally. Cage consists of Matthew Shultz (lead vocals), Brad Schultz (rhythm guitar), Daniel Tichenor (bass), Jared Champion (drums) and Nick Bockrath (lead guitar). As a relative newcomer to the band, I was not sure what to expect, but I came away a major fan of the group. Matthew’s voice holds a rebellious angst and bite that suits the clever lyrics perfectly. While you can get a sense of the band’s energy from a studio recording, I believe this band is best experienced live. From band members jumping off the stage to crowd surf to Matthew falling flat on his back after his lively stage antics, there is no holding back this band. Matthew first appeared on the stage wearing a red military jacket and hat, only to wind up shirtless and dripping with sweat by the end of the performance. Cage put on a great show, while maintaining a riveting musical sound.Looking back on the experience, I would describe Tiger Merritt as a new rising talent that I hope will be further recognized for his abilities. When comparing the final two bands, I feel that Foals possessed the most unique and musically innovative sound, while Cage the Elephant delivered the more exciting and upbeat performance.