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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cults and company’s display dazzles Club Congress crowd

    Cults and company’s display dazzles Club Congress crowd

    Surf swagger, spaghetti-Western bravado, and timeless girl pop don’t seem complementary on paper. When Mrs. Magician, Spectrals, and headliner Cults join for a cross-country tour however, the puzzle comes together. On March 18, Club Congress played host to the indie trio, selling out the evening’s show. The crowd seemed more than anxious to witness Cults’ meteoric legacy in person, while appreciating the adept openers to boot.

    Mrs. Magician

    San Diego’s Mrs. Magician fit the bill nicely, adding a hopped-up surf sound to the evening’s mix. The quartet’s hometown plays a role in its songs, influencing the tried-and-true surf formula with a little more urgency amid a sea of reverb. As infectious as Mrs. Magician’s songs may have been earlier on in its set, the song structure became somewhat stale by the end of it.

    A lone standout was the moody Spanish-styled “Don’t Flatter Yourself,” coming off as a theme song for drunkenly walking around Tijuana in an angry haze. However promising the group seemed, Mrs. Magician’s overused power chord structure and hair metal stage antics definitely turned off some audience members — these guys are definitely no Wavves. It may have been the young band’s first time in the Grand Canyon State, but they were a forgettable introduction to an otherwise unforgettable evening.


    Spectrals, the evening’s second opening act, used country licks and an unexpected Western feel to bring a welcome change of pace to the show. What was bred as a solo project by the U.K.’s Louis Jones came alive onstage with the addition of a full band, adding a dimensionality to the Spectrals’ album Bad Penny.

    Jones’ versatility is a refreshing trait, alternating between high register crooning and Kooks-esque cries over a shifting series of progressions that would do well in a film noir John Wayne adaptation.

    The group’s single “Confetti” is a prime example of Jones’ sense of musical economy, as he incorporates a time signature switch-up and heavily accented charm to craft an accessible head-bobber of a tune. Most of Spectrals’ wide and woozy manner sounds like an opiate-influenced visit to a country bar, assigning a distinct sonic theme to Jones’ work.


    From the projected light show that blanketed the stage and swell of noise that accompanied Cults’ arrival, the New York City-based band invoked a presence that promised big things for the night. Vocalist Madeline Follin is a vision onstage, lending her piercing vocals to boyfriend and guitarist Brian Oblivion’s auditory onslaught.

    Despite the slightly obscuring light display, there’s something to be respected about a frontwoman with both undress-me-eyes and a vivaciousness that can captivate a crowd. At a glance, it seems that the band plays songs that are sock-hop ready, such as “I’m Yours,” but Cults holds more variation than they’re typically credited with.

    As heavily criticized as the group’s vocal approach has been, the sparse usage of group harmony and Follin’s ability to belt it out are best appreciated in person. From pleading with the microphone on “Everybody Knows” to absolutely letting loose on “You Know What I Mean,” Follin’s unassuming image belies her talent — she’s a force to be reckoned with. The set closer of Cults’ ubiquitous “Go Outside” had the entire venue dancing along to the song’s xylophone opening, building to an anthemic climax.

    There was a definite air of innocence to the evening, as if the most prominent acts were distinctly aware that they’re still cutting their teeth. In an era where Hipster Runoff is a cornerstone to the jaded “indie” mindset regarding bands like Cults, it’s still nice to see listeners supporting a genuine band by selling out a show.

    Despite controversy and their buzzband status, Spectrals and Cults alike will hold a ravenous fan base for some time to come. With a show like this, they’re gracefully appealing to the rest of us as well.

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