REVIEW: Cults, Cullen Omori, Hideout @ Brighton Music Hall 10/18

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New York City indie pop darlings Cults paid a visit to Brighton Music Hall as part of a tour promoting their new album Offering, which was released on Oct. 6. Though in the studio the band consists of singer Madeline Follin and guitarist/keyboardist Brian Oblivion, on stage they were joined by guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, bassist Max Kamins, and drummer Cory Stier.

Rodriguez’s other band, Hideout, set the stage as the first opener. Without the connection to the headliner, they would have seemed a strange choice to open for Cults, as their grungy, driving rock tracks contrasted with Cults’ lighter, poppier sound. The room was nearly empty during their set, but that didn’t stop them from jamming out for a solid, tight few songs.

The second opener, Cullen Omori, was a much more fitting choice. Omori has made a name for himself in the past decade as the frontman of garage-pop outfit Smith Westerns, who broke up in 2014. He played a few new songs as well as cuts from his 2016 debut solo release New Misery, which bore a striking resemblance to those of his former band. Omori was clearly having fun on stage, dancing and headbanging to the jangly ‘60s-inspired tunes. Although the house wasn’t even close to packed, a decent number of people arrived for his set and were sufficiently prepared for Cults to take the stage.

The show had a theatrical start, with fuzzy reverberations blasting into the dark room before the band members walked on stage. Upon coming out they immediately launched into the title track of Offering. A multicolored light lay at the front of the stage facing the audience, dramatically obscuring the band in the shadows. Two white panels served as a backdrop for a widely varied sequence of visuals. Follin was a charming and magnetic frontwoman, dancing around and keeping the energy up throughout the show. She began a clap-along with the crowd during “Abducted,” a single from their 2011 self-titled debut album and a popular track among fans. Follin’s high-pitched vocals are a perfect addition to the group’s sunny, catchy songs, and that translated well to the stage.

Cults continued on to play a nice mix of songs from their new release, their debut, and their only other album, 2013’s Static. “I Took Your Picture,” the first single from Offering, began as a straightforward, solid tune before ending with a wall of shoegazey guitars. The cheery riffs of Static’s “Always Forever” were worthy of comparison to the music of Cullen Omori and Smith Westerns, further supporting their choice of opener. “Talk in Circles,” from Offering, was as powerful as it was lush. Oblivion stayed in the back playing keys, blending in with the other band members and going mostly unnoticed behind Follin aside from his occasional backing vocals. The hall steadily filled up throughout Cults’ set and was nearly full at the halfway point; the band paused after the Static single “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” and Oblivion asked of the audience, “Man, are we shredding up here, or is this just the best Boston crowd we’ve ever had?”

The definite highlight of the show came when an audience member yelled a request for “Rave On,” the closing track of the debut album. After a minute of deliberation (“It’s been awhile since we played that… like, it’s been two years!” lamented Follin), they decided to give it a go.

Besides Follin forgetting a few of the words, they performed the song as flawlessly as if they had been playing it all tour, much to the delight of both the band members and the audience. They closed with their self-titled album’s “You Know What I Mean,” a crooning, ‘50s-style ballad, before exiting the stage for the first time. Follin opened the curtains of the green room overlooking the stage and smiled at the crowd, who was clapping and cheering for an encore. After a couple of minutes, the band came back to play Static’s “Keep Your Head Up.” Follin explained to the audience, “I know it always sounds fake when we say it, but this is one of the best Boston sets we’ve ever played. I mean, we changed the setlist!” The band then launched into their final number, breakout single “Go Outside,” which is by far their most popular song and has been featured in numerous commercials and TV shows. They said some last “thank-you’s” to the crowd before leaving the stage.

Overall, Cults put on a great concert with lots of energy and charisma, and hopefully Offering will get the attention it deserves thanks to this run of shows.

-Leonora Telford