Cults Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON April 4
Published Apr 05, 2011Sure, candy can hurt your tummy, and nobody likes seeing the dentist, but everybody needs to indulge that sweet tooth now and then. The key is moderation, and soon-to-be-huge San Francisco pair Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, aka Cults, know it.
Their nine-song set -- the band only has 12 tracks so far -- was short, but (you guessed it) sweet, with the duo making the best of their short time onstage. Backed by a cadre of musicians who looked suspiciously like slightly altered clones of Oblivion, Cults sounded fuller and, yes, better than on record; the backing band added volume, power and dynamics to the proceedings and Follin, undoubtably the focal point onstage, has shockingly powerful vocal chops to counterbalance the honeyed melodies she sings. On undeniable live standout "You Know What I Mean," she wailed the last chorus like her life depended on it, all while maintaining perfect pitch and an affecting, rasping vocal timbre.
For such a young band (both age- and career-wise), Follin, Oblivion and co. played flawlessly and absolutely oozed charisma, to boot. "We're experiencing minor technical difficulties," said Oblivion after just a few seconds of onstage silence, "but our guitar and bass players do a good Sabbath cover," eliciting an enthusiastic response from the crowd. While the cover was not to happen -- the difficulties were short-lived -- the crowd was treated to a generous offering of songs from Cults' forthcoming debut full-length, including "Abducted," "Never Heal Myself" and "Never Saw the Point," alongside all three of the tracks from the "Go Outside" seven-inch that made the duo an instant sensation with web critics.
Whether or not you dig their sticky-sweet pop songs, credit is due to Cults on two fronts: first, for not playing up their cute-as-buttons image live, which might have derailed their near-perfect set; second, and more importantly, for living up to all the blog buzz heaped on them so early in their career, demonstrating musical chops that easily matched the hype surrounding them. Damn the stomach ache -- we could have eaten another piece of candy or two.