Excuse the strange streaky image above. I thought it looked kinda surreal and interesting. And for a band called Cults, it felt appropriate. That’s them, by the way, performing at the Echo last Sunday.
I’m gonna say this is the first time I’ve seen Cults perform proper. I caught them on tour for their sophomore album “Static” back in 2014. But it was a free concert at the Santa Monica Pier, and the sound was so low you could barely hear them. They looked the part, but as far as the music goes, I really couldn’t tell you. So for me, that show doesn’t count.
But this one does. And it was on a whim that I decided to check out Cults on the antepenultimate day before Xmas. It almost didn’t happen. I mean, I tried buying tickets the night before the show. And to my disappointment, they were sold out. I figured that was that. But unknowingly, I figured wrong. Instead, I had a rather vivid dream the band had released more tickets the next morning. So when I woke up, I checked the website. And sure enough, more tickets were available. I guess some dreams quite literally do come true. Weird, huh?
Anyway, enough of the rambling backstory.
The New York via San Diego indie outfit Cults is currently on tour, supporting last year’s enjoyable “Offering,” as well as the current “Motels” EP, featuring a trio of cover songs originally penned by ’80s alternative pop band Motels, and “Offering B-Sides & Remixes,” the title of which speaks for itself.
Their two-night stop at the Echo concluded on 12.23.18, and could best be referred to as the Cults’ holiday party. At least, that’s how core duo Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion saw it. Although, I’d add a bit of a late ’50s-early ’60s twist to the soiree, as Cults tend to swing their dream-pop tendencies towards the doo-wop innocence of past eras. Listen to their single “Bumper” and you’ll know what I mean.
Like many of the upbeat offerings on “Offering,” Cults kept the atmosphere light and lively, even if the actual stage lights were dim and few. Cults’ strength is their ability to craft buoyantly efficient pop songs, smart, short, and straight to the point. Their music is immensely likeable, filled with catchy synth-hooks, retro-stylings, and Follin’s dreamy vocal optimism … or pessimism, depending on your point of view. But it does all sound hopeful.
Cults kept their set at a brisk hour and a quarter, mixing up new and old material in a seamless collage of simple good fun. They played hits like “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” and “Always Forever,” as well as the aforementioned “Bumper.” And they threw in some of the livelier numbers from “Offering,” including the title track and “I Took Your Picture.” There’s was even a Motels cover with “Celia.”
And for me, the best part was actually being able to hear them this time around. Of course, that was always going to be the case. But you know, it’s good to be thankful for the little things we often take for granted.
Here’s a selection of material that Cults performed at the Echo on 12.23.18. Excuse some of the dark and occasionally soft photography. As I mentioned, the lights were few and dim. And we all know how well our smartphones love filming in those conditions. But like I mentioned, the sound is good. Enjoy!
Cults perform “Offering” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “I Took Your Picture” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Hope You Found What You’ve Been Missing” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Bumper” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “High Road” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Right Words” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Celia” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Always Forever” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.
Cults perform “Keep Your Head Up” @ the Echo on 12.23.18.