LIVE | Beck / Cage the Elephant / Spoon

by Amanda Koellner

With their Night Running Tour, Cage the Elephant and Beck have emerged as the odd couple rock ‘n’ roll didn’t know it needed. They brought Spoon and Sunflower Bean along for the ride, resulting in a 5-hour block of live music at Queens’ Forest Hills Stadium that felt more like a mini-festival than your typical concert.

After Spoon—one of music’s most reliably excellent bands—ripped through hit after hit from its 25+ career, Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz stole the night in fervid fashion. Emerging on what was a sweltering hot Saturday in an incalculable number of layers—as well as [kind of scary] masks, hats, and costume jewelry—he shed them one by one as day turned to night and as the audience grooved, jumped, and even attempted a few mico-mosh pits. Before Beck assumed his place as headliner, Shultz crowd surfed from the front of the house to the back to the tune of “We Are the Champions,” eventually scaling the roof of the sound tent and running to the top of the stadium. On guitar, his brother Brad nearly matches his energy, and with pyrotechnics and a catalog now peppered with sing-along friendly hits, Cage continues to prove they’re one of the most exciting live bands today.

Beck kept the party going, kicking his set off with what remains his biggest hit—1994’s “Loser.” He largely stuck with his more up-tempo numbers; “Lost Cause” was the only tune he played from his more somber Sea Change, and he didn’t play a single song from 2014’s gorgeous Morning Phase (a bummer for fans of the record, but sensible, considering the energetic act he followed). For the encore, he briefly covered Chic ("Good Times"), brought out Spoon lead singer Britt Daniel for an Elvis Costello cover (“Pump It Up”), and Matt Shultz for “Night Running” (a track from Cage’s most recent record that features Beck). A massive “Where It’s At” singalong served as the grand finale. By the end of the night, it felt, indeed, like we where were it was at. 

Photographed by Amanda Koellner.