Live at the Capitol Hill Block Party: Cults

photos by Dave Lichterman

It is not often that someone says something about music that totally changes the way I think of a band. Bob Boilen, host of NPR Music’s All Songs Considered podcast, did this in his recent discussion of the best music of the year so far. Choosing Cults’ opening cut, “Abducted,” as his favorite of the year so far, he described them as “creepy and beautiful,” often pairing haunting lyrics (“He tore me apart because I really loved him”) with joyful pop instrumentation. For me, this gives depth and meaning to a band that is not doing a whole lot new – most of their songs are reworkings of mid 21st century pop genres. Cults is perhaps nostalgic for a worry-free mid-century era of American dreams, pairing this bliss with a sense of realism, an acknowledgment that the world is in a lot more trouble now.

I was not very impressed with either of the last two times I saw this band -– they were a bit timid, lacked confidence, and had a general demeanor of indifference. Yet, it’s amazing what several months can do -– the release of their brilliant self-titled debut and constant touring has given this band a wonderful live show. Front pair Madeline Folline and Brian Oblivion utilized call and echo vocals on several songs. They swayed back and forth, Folline often marching in place, her hair persistently covering her face.

Definite highlights included their second song performed, soon-to-be-released 7”, “The Curse,” which comes out in December. Additionally, Cults played “Rave On,” the closing track on the album and part of a Buddy Holly tribute album titled Rave On Buddy Holly.  This band seems to be living up to the hype surrounding them. If you haven’t yet, give their debut album a spin. It is easy on the ears, catchy as can get and leaves you wanting to turn around and listen to the whole thing again.

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  1. kevincorcoranjr
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Watching Cults was such a treat for me. I saw them at a bar here in San Diego and it was such an intimate experience. As a huge fan, it was amazing to be so close… I felt like I was in their living room (not that I think their living room would look like a bar…) but just because it was such a small venue and they performed so emotionally! Can’t wait to see them on their fall tour with Foster the People.. so stoked!

  2. Michael Beck
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Right on, Kevin! I totally agree with you. Neumo’s is one of Seattle’s best venues, a perfect size for creating a one-of-a-kind intimate experience. Keep on keepin’ on. Best.

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