Cults 3/23 Glasshouse Pomona Review

By Ace Ubas

Off the top of my head, no band has gotten so successful so fast in the past year and a half or so than Cults. Typically, for a band to reach a large amount of success and popularity, it would normally take a couple of years plus a few albums. But typical doesn’t define Cults. The Manhattan-based duo comprised of vocalist Madeline Follin and guitarist/vocalist Brian Oblivion released their self-titled debut album just last year to a great amount of critical reception that landed in many year-end lists. However, what really got them attention across the blogosphere was due to one song – “Go Outside.” From then on, it was an avalanche effect that led to their rise at the top of the indie circuit. What comes to mind when a band gets popularity because of one song is the term one-hit wonder where they make that one song that they’re known for and then they’re never heard from again because they fail to write songs that’s on par with that single. On Friday night at the Glasshouse in Pomona in front of a packed house, Cults proved that they’ll never be a one-hit wonder.

It was 10 PM sharp when the lights turned dark that encouraged the crowd a roaring cheer. As soon as the lights came back on to a dim red and blue, Follin, Oblivion, and their live band were already on stage and ready to go. Though everyone already knew they were, the band kept up with the dark, mysterious them throughout the night with a dimly-lit stage and Follin and Oblivion’s jet black hair covering their faces. Talking to some of the crowd up front, Cults seemed to be a rather appropriate band name regarding their fan base. Those that I spoke to were clearly crazed with admiration and love to the point were they themselves seemed like they were in some kind of cult. But I digress.

As if the crowd wasn’t energized enough, Cults opened with catchy single “Abducted” that got everyone to start dancing and singing along. The 50s/60s-esque pop number pretty much ensured that neither the band nor the crowd was going to slow down for any reason.

Bands, especially in a live setting, that try to pull off the whole nostalgia style usually fall flat, unoriginal, and recycled with their music. But Cults pulls it off perfectly, deriving inspiration from pop groups of those decades while adding their own modern twist to it. And what really held their set together was Follin’s voice, most notably on “Most Wanted” and the bouncy “Walk at Night.” Oblivion shined brightest on “Never Heal Myself” where his riffs were on-point with reverb especially towards the end. There were even moments during the song where he harmonized the riffs with Follin’s singing. This was definitely a fine moment to see live because on record, his riffs sound subdued.

It seemed rather pointless when Oblivion told the crowd to sing and dance along because they’ve been doing that the whole night. But it served as a perfect introduction to “Go Outside,” where as soon as the opening xylophone melody played, the crowd went haywire. Not only was every single person dancing and singing, a few people even crowd surfed.

In a show of humbleness, Oblivion addressed the crowd saying that rather than doing the whole encore routine because they’re not “rock stars,” he simply asked whether the crowd to hear one more song or not. Obviously, they did and this led to closer “Oh My God.”

There are three factors that make Cults good artists: simplicity, catchiness, and nostalgia. Their songs aren’t overtly complex or pretentious. They’re simple in structure and filled with tons of hooks. Lyrically, they’re lyrics that everyone can understand, memorize, and sing along to. And most importantly, they pull-off the vintage pop style perfectly while adding their own modern twist of melodies. All of this can be seen at their concerts and those are the reasons why they’ll continue to be successful for awhile.

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