The Night Running Tour Brings Summer Camp Vibes to the QC
Performances by: Sunflower Bean, Spoon, Beck, Cage the Elephant
One could only dream of a star studded tour like the one that passed through Charlotte on Sunday night at PNC Music Pavilion.
With an all star alternative rock lineup including Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, and Sunflower Bean, Sunday night felt like summer camp for both the fans and the artists; hanging out with your closest friends on a laid back summer evening, listening to the best music, at one of the hottest tours of the summer.
Opening the night was indie rock band, Sunflower Bean. Hailing from New York City and established in 2013, the uber talented trio consisting of Julia Cumming (bass and lead vocals), Nick Kivlen (lead guitar and vocals), and Jacob Faber (drums), rocked the pavilion as fans filed in. It quickly became evident within the first few songs of the importance and effect of chemistry within the band. Sunflower Bean has been jamming along to their edgy nostalgic rock since forming in high school.
Prior to picking up a spot on The Night Running Tour, they had opened for bands such as DIIV, The Vaccines, Best Coast, Pixies, and Wolf Alice. With the release of their glamorous and psychedelic sophomore album Twentytwo in Blue in March of 2018, the band has gained a significant amount of traction within the industry. Appealing to the likes of both Beck and Cage the Elephant fans, Sunflower Bean’s alternative discography provided for a stellar opening set.
Emerging on stage with a radiant aura, Cumming wore a long sparkly tiger print dress with edgy and bold eyeliner and bandmate Kivlen sported a white silky ensemble consisting of short shorts and a blazer-like jacket joined by a vintage graphic tee and one hoop earring. Right off the bat, everyone in the crowd could tell that the trio had the potential to save American rock n roll. Starting off with “King of the Dudes”, those that had arrived early were in for a treat.
Next up was Spoon, one of indie rock’s most critically acclaimed bands. Around since the mid 90’s, Spoon has been instrumental in the formation and evolution of alternative music. With hits like “Inside Out” and “The Underdog”, they had the crowd singing along in no time. Innovative and creative, Spoon remains minimalist when it comes to the production and craft of their sound. Originally from Austin, Texas, Spoon is comprised of Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, Alex Fischel, and Gerardo Larois. Since the release of their greatest hits album, Everything Hits at Once: The Best of Spoon, the band has resurfaced appealing to music lovers of all ages.
Lead singer, Britt Daniel made sure to mention the band’s past performances in Charlotte. Having played Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, The Fillmore, and even the Thirsty Beaver, he expressed his gratitude for Charlotte’s continuous support.
With lyrics that are straightforward and literate, rhythms that are adaptable, and instruments that are precise, the band has a sound that is undeniably timeless.
Then, it was Cage the Elephant’s turn to take the stage. If you have been a music listener anytime from 2009 to present, you have grown up on the sounds of Cage the Elephant. With songs like “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Ain’t No Rest for The Wicked” we’re all guilty of adding one of the following to our playlists. Although, it’s rightfully so. Cage the Elephant has engaged the masses with their spunky alt garage rock. Not only this, but they are highly accredited for their live shows. From breaking numerous bones, to crowd surfing, to wearing sequined dresses, to doing a stripped back “unpeeled” tour, you never know what they’ve got up their sleeve. Originally from Bowling Green, Kentucky, the band was formed by brothers, Matt and Brad Shultz, as well as Nick Bockrath, Matthan Minster, Daniel Tichenor, and Jared Champion. Now touring in promotion of their most recent release, Social Cues, released in April earlier this year, the band was excited to be back in the queen city with new material.
Beginning with “Broken Boy”, the band’s first track off Social Cues, lead singer Shultz amped the energy up multiple notches as he sprinted on stage. Dancing with peacock like moves, the artist had the crowd roaring within seconds. Jumping, frolicking, running, and pacing the entire night, Shultz made sure to keep the energy alive during the entirety of the band’s show.
Pyrotechnics and outfit changes played a big role in Cage the Elephant’s set. When starting the night, Shultz had nearly ten layers of costumes on and would strip off an article of clothing or exchange hats with each song as fire burned behind him and fireworks would simmer onto the stage.
A notable moment of the night was when the band began to play “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked”, their most popular song to date with over 260 million streams on Spotify. As the iconic guitar riff set in and Shultz began to howl the lyrics, the voices from the crowd were so thundering and boisterous that they were almost heard over Shultz. After finishing the song, Shultz asked if anyone in the pavilion was a good fire maker. He then proceeded to compare his job as a performer to starting a fire, creating something like music that sparks a flame that you believe is so wonderful, and wanting to preserve and extend the energy to as many people as possible… just as you would if you started a fire and worked hard to keep it alive. The metaphor provided a beautiful way to prove the passion the band has for creating and performing their music.
Cage the Elephant saved “Cigarette Daydreams” for the second to last song on their setlist before ending on “Teeth”. Prior to playing the song, Shultz spoke personably to the crowd, encouraging them to never give up hope. With the creation of Social Cues, an album that focuses heavily on dark emotions and Shultz’s divorce, his comment seemed to be a hint towards the fans that he too has dealt with hard pain, but it does get better eventually.
Ending the set with Shultz sprinting towards the lawn and crowd surfing as “We are the Champions” played over the speakers, Cage the Elephant left fans in awe of their talent and spontaneity.
After witnessing Cage the Elephant perform at PNC, it was astonishing to think that they had played The Fillmore just over five years ago. However, there was a missing piece to the rockstar group. Brother and guitarist, Brad Shultz unfortunately is not touring with Cage the Elephant on The Night Running Tour due to a herniated disc in his neck. Although he was not there physically, he most definitely was in spirit.
Beck topped off the star studded lineup. Fusing anti-folk and noise rock, the artist is arguably one of the most influential artists in alternative music today. With a discography that includes 13 studio albums and a worldwide hit, his presence in Charlotte was not taken for granted. Working with Cage the Elephant and playing a large role in producing Social Cues, it only made sense that the two acts would tour together. Since Beck released his debut album Mellow Gold in 1994, he drew in many old and new fans.
Kicking off the last set of the night, Beck began with his biggest hit “Loser”, instantly captivating the semi-caught-off-guard-crowd, expecting that he would save the song for later in the night. Although, if he had done so, it wouldn’t have been a Beck show. Beck is an artist that is all about surprise, defying the odds, and pushing boundaries. With the immediate hook, Beck made it aware that he was down to get funky with Charlotte. After “Loser”, he moved quickly on to “Up All Night”, a radio successful, fan approved, alternative jam.
A fan favorite of the night included “Devils Haircut”, originating from Beck’s third album, Odelay, released in 1996. Taking a trip back in time from songs such as “Dreams” and “Saw Lightning” which incorporate more indie pop, Beck really showcased his ability to create music deriving from all genres.
As he sang “Go it Alone”, a catchy early 2000s hit infused with swagger and punching bass lines, fans watched and sang along as their idol dominated the stage.
Discussing his love of Charlotte with the crowd, Beck spoke of how he feels comfortable in Charlotte. As an artist residing in Los Angeles, it spoke a lot about the city. All bands seemed to enjoy their time performing in North Carolina, having made multiple tour cycles through various venues, Charlotte residents were ecstatic to hear their appreciation for the city.
Beck slowed it down for “Lost Cause” as his band exited the stage and he performed solo. Leaving just a musician and his guitar, fans brought out their flashlights turning PNC into an electronic constellation while Beck serenaded 19,000 fans.
For “E-Pro”, the last song played before Beck’s encore, giant white and metallic balloons were dispersed throughout the venue making the night a lively concert experience. Although, it wasn’t just balloons that Beck had up his sleeve. In the realm of stage decor, he had band members staggered on reflective prisms, colorful laser light shows, and a stunning graphic display on the big screen positioned behind him. Overall, the production was like no other. Even those who weren’t there to see Beck could appreciate the design from an artistic and production standpoint.
Strolling back on stage after the encore, Beck invited Spoon, Sunflower Bean, and Cage the Elephant back to sing “Night Running”. As confetti streamed into the air during the entirety of the song, PNC turned into what appeared to be a winter wonderland in late August. As all the artists joined together for one last song, the musical talent was overflowing. Watching all four bands/acts jamming on stage for the sake of music was both a cathartic and spiritual experience. When the nearly five hour event was over, and fans made it back to the parking lot, there was a sense of community that had been established throughout the night. We all left with new friends, new merch, and exciting songs for our Spotify playlists. Cage the Elephant fans became Beck fans, Beck fans became Cage the Elephant fans, and the rest was history.
Make sure to check out an upcoming show at The Night Running Tour!
Catch this Tour:
AUG 27 Beck and Cage the Elephant: The Night Running Tour Tue 6 PM CDT · 5,473 guests Oak Mountain Amphitheatre Pelham, AL AUG 29 Beck and Cage the Elephant: The Night Running Tour Thu 6 PM · 8,200 guests MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre Tampa, FL AUG 30 Beck and Cage the Elephant: The Night Running Tour Fri 6 PM · 5,966 guests Coral Sky Amphitheatre West Palm Beach, FL OCT 19 Tecate Live Out 2019 Oct 19 - Oct 20 · 24,073 guests Parque Fundidora Monterrey, Mexico OCT 25 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience Fri 12 AM CDT · 2,349 guests New Orleans City Park New Orleans, LA OCT 27 2019 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience Oct 27 - Oct 29 · 20,084 guests Voodoo Music + Arts Experience New Orleans, LA DEC 6 Intersect Festival 2019 Dec 6 - Dec 7 · 4,358 guests Las Vegas Festival Grounds Las Vegas, NV