The end of the winter doldrums is often a reason for celebration and four great bands joined together for a tour to provide an outlet for music fans to commemorate the coming of spring. The Spring Fling Rock AF 2016 tour made a stop at the 111 year old Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY. Music fans were lined up for two blocks outside the gloomy gothic structure that camouflaged the festive concert space inside.
The early evening sun beamed through a large circular window above the stage as Brooklyn’s Bear Hands kicked of the show precisely at the seven p.m. start time. The group began their set with a pair of rhythmic songs from the 2014 album Distraction, “Peacekeeper”, and “Bonedigger” before treating the growing crowd to new song, “Marathon Man”, from their much anticipated album, You’ll Pay for This, due out April 15th. The band dug deeper into their catalog with “What a Drag” from the 2010 album Burning Bush Supper Club before sandwiching another brand new song”2A.M.” between two songs from Distractions, “Angora” and “Giants” that closed out the set.
English alternative rock band Foals began their set with a bang performing a bombastic version of “Snake Oil” from the band’s latest release, What Went Down, which triggered a huge reaction from the crowd including a surge toward the stage and the first of what was a big evening of crowd surfing. The band and the crowd’s energy continued to escalate with “Olympic Airways” from the group’s first album Antidotes and a pair of songs from 2013’s Holy Fire, “My Number” and “Providence” before settling into a slow simmer with “Spanish Sahara”. After the slow build up and big finish of “Spanish Sahara” the band tore into “Mountain At My Gates”, probably the band’s biggest hit from the What Went Down album which drew the biggest reaction from the audience of the set. The set ended as intensely as it began with “Inhaler” and the title track with front man Yannis Philippakis jumping into the crowd.
Bright vocals from lead vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert and the shimmering backing vocals of Nikki Monninger soared over the crowd during “Cradle (Better Nature)”, the in parenthesis title track Silversun Pickup’s latest album.“Well Thought Out Twinkles” from the band’s first album, 2006’s Carnavas and “The Royal We” from 2009’s Swoon preceded another gem from their newest album, “Nightlight”, a real highlight of the set. Passionate vocals by Aubert and electronic percussion added by Monninger created an emotional version of “Friendly Fires”. “Panic Switch” and “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” both contained more great vocals and pulsating rhythms. “Lazy Bones”, the band’s most recognizable song from the first album ended a set of great music without a lot of fanfare.
The energy level inside the old venue went through the roof when headliner Cage the Elephant took the stage. Lead vocalist Matthew Shultz wasted no time revving the crowd up when the band launched into “Cry Baby” from last year’s release, Tell Me I’m Pretty, and the crowd surfing that had slowed during the Silversun Pickups set began to escalate. “In One Ear,” a big hit from the band’s breakout self-titled debut album excited much of the audience even more and a steady stream of crowd surfers splashed over the barricade into the waiting security detail.
The high energy level was sustained with two songs from the Melophobia album, “Spiderhead” and “Take It Or Leave It”. “Aberdeen” showcased the band’s ability to sound contemporary while maintaining a vintage rock vibe. “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” another big song from the band’s debut album received the expected huge response from the crowd. The torrid pace of the set slowed and the audience relaxed a bit during “Telescope” and then cranked back up again with burning version “Back Against the Wall”. Cage the Elephant returned to the stage with great three song encore after ending the set with “Come A Little Closer”. The encore cane to a climax with “Teeth” that sounded great live without the horn section that was assembled for the album and Shultz diving into the crowd and doing a little crowd surfing of his own.