Monday, April 11
Cults look a little like a cult. To play in Cults, you have to have dark, long hair that reaches>"/>
Monday, April 11
Monday, April 11
Cults look a little like a cult. To play in Cults, you have to have dark, long hair that reaches to around your nipples. OK, maybe not, but four out of the six musicians who played as Cults last night fit that description. Kurt Vile could camouflage himself among this band. Cults' two primary members, the similarly tressed couple Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, distinguished themselves from the rest of their band onstage last night by wearing matching black and white.
More interesting than Cults' matchy-matchy appearance, though, is the question of whether a band that has released exactly four recorded songs to the public and has a relatively low-lying Internet presence and an un-Googleable band name could draw a decent crowd in a city across the country from where they live (New York) on a Monday night.
The Croc was a little more than half full last night, with more and more people filtering in as Cults' set progressed. No one clapped or cheered or said anything when the band came onstage and started playing, and no one laughed or made much response to Follin's jokes and comments, except for a couple of drunk girls near the front who kept screaming "Awesome! awesome!," apparently having too awesome a time to think of other words.
"Why are you guys so quiet?" pleaded Follin at one point.
The answer seems to be that the crowd was too curious to have much typical fan enthusiasm--Cults has been getting buzzed up as of late, thanks to Pitchfork approval and a recent record deal with Lily Allen's Columbia Records imprint, In the Name Of, but no one knows much else about the band yet--there are just those four songs and a couple of photos of Oblivion and Follin, flinging their hair so that it obscures both their faces. Last night was essentially Seattle's first look at Cults since the buzz broke. (They were most recently in town last October opening for Twin Sister and the Morning Benders, but no one in that audience, including me, paid them much attention then).
Cults proved to be interesting and compelling enough to break the awkward spell, though. The band's sound is often and understandably compared to the girl-group fare of the '60s, a la the Shangri-Las--it's quick, snappy, and jaunty. But despite the music's delightful retro sound, Follin's voice and presence as a singer are much more assertive and modern--she doesn't carry as much of the hesitance or playful coyness as those girls did 50 years ago. "You Know What I Mean" starts out sweetly and timidly enough, but then rises and crashes into an accusing chorus that Follin sings with heat. "I could never be myself, so fuck you," she spits out in another song. There isn't any crying over boys or parties going on here.
Oblivion sang on two songs last night--he should make it a more regular habit; he and Follin sound lovely together. He mostly sticks to playing crunchy guitar lines that rough up Follin's bright vocals and the tinkling xylophone that appears on a few Cults songs--including "Go Outside," the song that finally got last night's crowd moving with a good amount of abandon. "Go Outside" is Cults' first single and their most recognizable song; it's also a hopelessly infectious springtime anthem.
"I saw people freak-dancing out there," Follin said happily.
It was too little, too late, though--during the next song, the crowd, finally loosened up, continued to move and mimic Follin's march-like shuffle on stage, but it was the band's final number. Next time Seattle will be more ready for them.