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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 6:55 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Jeff Moehlis: Cults Is Alive and Well in Santa Barbara

Band plays the bulk of their catchy debut album at Velvet Jones

The band Cults created a buzz when their bubbly song “Go Outside,” featuring some of the most effective glockenspiel in the history of rock-and-roll, was released online in 2010, with the mystery of who exactly was fueling the fire. It turned out to be a home project by New York-based guitarist Brian Oblivion and vocalist Madeline Follin.

Later, they got more attention — and, not surprisingly, generated some controversy — when a video for this song was released that includes footage of the Jim Jones religious cult Peoples Temple, starting with Jones saying, “To me, death is not a fearful thing. It’s living that’s treacherous.” The band members are cleverly inserted into the footage, which shows how the Peoples Temple members lived but not how they died. The famous images of the aftermath of the group’s mass suicide are not shown.

“Go Outside” was the best-known of the songs on the program at the sold-out concert by Cults at Velvet Jones on Saturday, where Oblivion and Follin were joined by other band members to make live performance possible. But we were also treated to nearly the entirety of their debut album, a 1960s-Wall-of-Sound-meets-modern-rock neo-Spector pastiche of catchiness.

This included the kick-off track “Abducted,” the “slow jam” “You Know What I Mean,” “Bumper” for which Follin and Oblivion trade off vocals, and “Rave On,” dedicated to the couple making out on the edge of the stage. They also did a cool cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.”

The sound was fuller and more powerful than the album versions, with body-shaking bass and swirling samples and loops. Perhaps my only gripe is that the extreme volume took away a bit of their work’s subtlety.

The light show was amazing, with images of static, dots, patterns and the like projected from behind the crowd, making you feel like you were inside a television.

After describing encores as “gratuitous,” the band stayed onstage and wrapped up with “Oh My God.” At about 45 minutes, it was a short concert, but it was sweet in just the right ways.

Setlist

Abducted
The Curse
Never Heal Myself
Most Wanted
You Know What I Mean
Bumper
Never Saw the Point
Rave On
Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen cover)
Walk at Night
Go Outside
Oh My God

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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