A&E

Cage the Elephant, Beck, Spoon and more come to Shoreline

'The Night Running Tour' mixes established acts with up-and-comers

Alternative-rock band Cage the Elephant will perform at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View as part of "The Night Running Tour," alongside Beck, Spoon and more. Photo by Neil Krug.

With the popularity of Outside Lands, Coachella and Bonnaroo, destination musical events have taken up the pop-cultural real estate once occupied by touring festivals. Indie rockers Cage the Elephant and singer/songwriter Beck are doing their part to bring a broader swath of musical offerings with their co-headlining 24-city "The Night Running Tour." The roster for this alternative mini-festival, which makes a stop Tuesday evening at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, also includes fellow indie veterans Spoon and punky SoCal upstarts Starcrawler.

"I would like to expand it even more," said Brad Schultz, Cage the Elephant's guitarist and co-founder. "Just the time constraints that we have wouldn't let us. We wanted it to be a bigger bill as far as the most bands we could possibly fit in.

"The reason we have the opening acts" -- Wild Belle or Sunflower Bean instead of Starcrawler in other cities -- "is because we wanted to get some of those bands as much exposure as we possibly could," he continued, by phone from his home in Nashville. "We really like to support some of the younger bands and be a platform for them."

Beck appears on Cage the Elephant's fifth and most recent studio album, "Social Cues." The charismatic troubadour contributes to a song called "Night Running," appropriately enough, and became part of a larger Cage the Elephant collaborators community that includes vocalist Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather) and saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, BĂ©la Fleck & The Flecktones). Beck's father, David Campbell, even wrote arrangements for and conducted on "Social Cues."

Are all groups and artists with whom Cage the Elephant tours as familiar to the Schultz and his bandmates as Beck is to them? "Some of them, yeah," Schultz replied. "Some of them, we just really like their music.

"We're always pretty hands-on when it comes to our tours. Some of the ones beginning out, you're not able to do that," he said. "But for the last two albums, we've been really intent on choosing the bands we tour with."

A Grammy win in 2017 for Best Rock Album (for 2015's "Tell Me I'm Pretty," produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys) may have given the band some status when it comes to tour planning. But a 20-minute conversation with Schultz reveals that he's still a pure music fanatic at heart.

"I mean, the younger bands have some of the freshest stuff. So I'm kind of fanning out when they're on tour with us," he declared, letting out one of several hearty laughs.

Schultz even recalled being in the audience for some inspired in-concert musical matchmaking. "When Weezer was touring for the green album, when 'Island in the Sun' was a hit, The Strokes were opening for them. And that was amazing -- a real one-two punch."

As for the old(er) friends on "The Night Running Tour," there are plans for them to sit in with each other nightly: "We've definitely talked about it with Beck, and Spoon as well," he revealed. "It'd be like a big family jam. I always love seeing that kind of stuff."

An actual familial relationship is at the core of Cage the Elephant. Brad's brother Matt, a fellow co-founder, is lead vocalist. He said the pair's shared upbringing in Bowling Green, Ky., continues to influence their artistry.

"We grew up in Section 8 housing, and we really didn't have money to buy instruments," he recalled. "My first guitar was a $20 guitar, a classical guitar that I bought from a kid from the neighborhood. Matt wanted to play drums when he was younger. We used to dumpster dive, and somehow we found a drum kit in the dumpster.

"At least creativity for us, a lot has come from the lack of other things. We learned to take what we had and make something from it," he added. "And so I think that was one of the biggest influences on us growing up."

Not having the latest/greatest/shiniest gear made for a longer and likely more considered musical journey for the siblings, Schultz reckons. He and Matt met and started playing with current band members Daniel Tichenor (bass) and Jared Champion (drums) back in high school. In the 10 years since their self-titled debut album was released, that core quartet has managed to dominate the Billboard alternative radio chart with the most #1 songs (seven) of any artist.

"It slowed us down to the point where we were a bit of late bloomers. I feel like I'm still discovering things," he reflected. "There's always a fear that things will become static or stagnant or stale because you've reached your capacity for wanting to learn and expand. Or you just get complacent,

"I feel like it kind of slowed us down because we weren't exposed to very much. I mean, we were first finding out about the Pixies, which is just a band that everybody should know about, when we were, like, 24 years old!," he chuckled. "So I think that actually worked in our favor, because we're still very much in a discovery phase."

Freelance writer Yoshi Kato can be emailed at yoshiyoungblood.net.

What: "The Night Running Tour" with Beck and Cage the Elephant featuring Spoon and Starcrawler.

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View.

When: Tuesday, July 16, 6 p.m.

Cost: $29.50-$200.50.

Info: Go to LiveNation.

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