This Little Underground: Cage the Elephant & Bear Hands @ Plaza Live

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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly’s music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city’s music scene. Read the latest column here.

 

Bear Hands at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)
  • Bear Hands at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

Bear Hands at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

Bear Hands, in case you don’t recall, was a straggler to the great bear-band rush that consumed the indie world some years back. Their 2010 debut LP Burning Bush Supper Club was an exceptional work of wiry pop dynamism that kicked up a bit of underground noise, but then they sort of disappeared. After years of heavy support touring and writing, they reemerged this year with Distraction, an album that’s a more centrist recalibrationof their sound. And everything about their latest show (June 17, The Plaza Live) reinforces this pivot: It was big, direct and in support of the venue-packing Cage the Elephant. But the good news is that this current direction still has all the shine that makes Bear Hands special. Even though their earlier obliqueness made them more interesting, their acuity for pop was really their main currency. Well, that’s still in effect, and they’ve never sounded better on stage.

Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)
  • Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

As for headliner Cage the Elephant, wow, the amount of live rock & roll heat these Kentucky boys pack – even for the high energy level of their music – is sort of astonishing, especially from frontman Matt Schultz. That lil dude is a firecracker with glam-sized stage presence and all-out performance style. Their aesthetic is mostly bookended by ‘70s grandeur and millennial pop sharpness, then colored by everything in between, and pumped with some rock octane. It’s a dizzyingly hodgepodge approach but they rock it pretty hard with a live show that is huge and hitting.

Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)
  • Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

Cage the Elephant at the Plaza Live (photo by James Dechert)

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