I’ve always experienced Cage in a massive setting; at the Definitive Jux showcase at SXSW or a large venue gig for Rock the Bells. Those memories are night and day to his solo performance at the Marquis Theater on Thursday, June 24. And I have to say, I prefer the night.
That SXSW show at Emo’s was packed with a crazy amount of people getting pretty aggressive near the front of the stage, making it more than a challenge to shoot the show let alone stay standing. It wasn’t anything I haven’t gone through a million times before and something I fully expected, but seeing Cage’s forceful, party-esque energy at that time and then enjoying him by himself, really feeling the words he wrote, portraying those moods and thoughts to music on the Marquis stage, I and the fans were able to experience the solo Chris Palko.
Without overtly scraping a line from Slug, Cage’s creative finesse enables him create lemonade out of lemons, taking those dark times in one’s life and wrapping them with beautiful, depressing, cut-to-the-bone lyrics and musical tapestries from the halls of a haunted castle.
When Cage dove into “Eating Its Way Out of Me” from his most recent release, Depart From Me, his body twisted in the agony and the ecstasy as his words “You don’t give a fuck about me…I’d like to make it all go away but it’s too ingrained / I’d like to say that I’m happy but I don’t know what it feels like” pierced our eardrums.
The deep funk rhythm of “Perfect World,” what Cage called his “horny song,” created a flowing wave of movement through the crowd and he answered the call, stalking the stage with flips of the hands, whips of the legs and kicks of the feet.
One of the new tracks on my favorites list, “Look At What You Did,” made its way onto the set list, but Cage warned the young minds standing in front of him that the vampire referenced in the song was a metaphor and not a literal tune created for a “Twilight” soundtrack. I wonder how many of the kids had to go home and look up the meaning of metaphor.
Switching gears from the groove to the dank and slithering backdrop of “I Found My Mind in Connecticut,” Cage stands motionless except for his hands that run through his damp hair as his eyes close and curled lips confess “Every morning I just lay in bed cause I don’t wanna wake up / Pick my stupid face up, give my shit away / You’ll take it from me anyway even if I go away / I will never go away.”
At this point the girl standing behind me spilled her entire glass of liquid on my back, apologizing quickly and running away. I was grateful that it was just water and the idiot wasn’t able to buy and spill a beer on me instead; and that it didn’t get on my camera.
Soon after another chickie at the front of the stage, barely past 21 I’m sure, continued to push her half drunken Bud Light at Cage, encouraging him to drink. He refrained, holding on to his water bottle and indicating that the pre-show festivities put him in a frame of mind where warm beer wasn’t really needed. After a bit he took it from her was a way to shut her up, but then she kept asking for it back. Insert a sigh and rolling eyes here.
The aptly titled album track “Depart From Me,” soon followed as “It’s really over, over, over your head” streamed through the speakers like a fine scotch on a cold winter night. As he moved into “I Never Knew You” I pictured Marlon Brando lip syncing to the song, standing in a New York alley screaming at the top of his lungs as rain streams down his face.
The show was exhausting and exhilarating, which pretty much coincides with an at-home or in-the-car listening experience of a Cage album, but with a higher degree of heart palpitations and visual candy. Although the mood this night felt a lot more serious than that of the SXSW gig, it was a welcomed shift. As I now listen to Depart From Me with two-fingers of scotch, the experience is enriched as that captivating show plays in my head.