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Cage The Elephant and Tank and The Bangas galvanize ACL Season 45

Austin City Limits spotlights thrilling live bands in a new installment featuring rock giants Cage The Elephant, one of music’s biggest live acts. The hour also introduces a 2020 “Best New Artist” GRAMMY nominee, New Orleans breakout act Tank and the Bangas. 

Hailing from Kentucky, the Nashville-based six-piece Cage The Elephant perform tracks from their acclaimed fifth album Social Cues, alongside career highlights in a stellar, hit-filled set. Charismatic lead singer/live wire Matt Shultz takes the stage in a signature makeshift outfit: elbow-length blue gloves, blue tights adorned with women’s lace underwear, headphones and goggles. A wardrobe rack and a trunk filled with props sit onstage amidst the amplifiers, as the shape-shifting frontman changes outfits with each song. “It’s a lot of work wearing all these different personalities,” says Shultz, while seamlessly delivering a seven-song set of his ubiquitous alternative-rock hits. Opening with the new wave-heavy smash “Broken Boy,” Shultz, known for his wild antics, stalks the stage in a can’t-look-away performance. Reaching back to 2015’s GRAMMY-winning Tell Me I’m Pretty for “Cold Cold Cold,” Shultz changes into fluorescent yellow fishermen’s gear, and ventures into the audience, sprinting into the bleachers and sliding down the steps backward on his head. Without missing a beat, the hit parade continues with melodic charmer “Trouble,” as the crowd sings along with every word; an iconic slide guitar riff next signals the 2008 breakthrough hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” as Shultz dons a fishnet face mask and climbs onto the P.A. for the Cage classic. The band closes out with radio smash “Come a Little Closer,” turned into a raucous, audience participation anthem.

“Matt Shultz takes the prize for the most wardrobe changes in a single show in ACL history,” laughs ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Who knew? Nobody knows quite what to expect from Cage The Elephant, and that’s a big part of why their fans love them so much.”

photo by Scott Newton

New Orleans five-piece R&B, funk and hip-hop outfit Tank and the Bangas shine in a radiant ACL debut featuring songs from the 2019 major label debut Green Balloon. A unit where jazz meets hip-hop, soul meets rock, and funk is the heartbeat of all they do, this versatile act came together in 2011 at a NOLA open mic event, and got propelled into the national limelight when they unanimously won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2017. The Big Easy band takes viewers on a handclapping, swaying, joyous ride through its world. Former slam poet and magnetic lead singer Tank Ball shifts from a lilting sing-song to deep and forceful rapping on set opener “Spaceships.” The Bangas keep the music rolling and solos flying as Tank unleashes her powerful vocal on “Ripperton Love,” in tribute to R&B legend Minnie Ripperton. On the soulful meditation “Hot Air Balloon,” Ball explores her elastic voice as the band provides an other-worldly soundscape building to a fiery sax solo. Set-closer “The Brady’s” has it all: sweet harmonies, crashing drums, rock guitar and relentless groove, anchored by Tank’s colorful vocal stylings.

“Tank and the Bangas radiate joy, and their set is nothing but a musical joy ride,” says Lickona. “The world needs Tank and the Bangas more now than ever.”

As always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring Grammy-nominated pop newcomer Billie Eilish.