Indie-pop duo Cults, made up of Manhattan natives Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, performed an upbeat and enjoyable set at Ottobar on March 3rd. Though the stage lighting was minimal—with the exception of a series of video projections—vocalist Madeline Follin lit up the venue as she danced around on stage in a yellow sundress and audience members sang along with Cults’ positively pleasant lyrics.
Follin proudly announced that at their previous Ottobar show there were not nearly as many people in attendance. Though selling this show out was a big improvement, the duo has been seeing success since its beginnings. Pitchfork gave Cults the title of “Best New Music” upon the release of their EP in 2010. After the release of their full-length album in June of 2011, Pitchfork awarded them the title of “Best New Music” for a second time. Their album consists of 11 tracks, including their well-known “Go Outside”, which, although catchy, is not the strongest track. Follin’s voice seems to be more cute than it is strong until “You Know What I Mean”, in which she belts the ending line just as well live as she does on the album. Both “Bumper” and “Abducted” feature duets between Oblivion and Follin. The playfulness and contrast in their vocals are similar to tracks by Zooey Deschanel and M.Ward’s She & Him. “Abducted”, in particular, was a favorite with the audience. Before performing “Never Saw The Point”, they explained that the song is about dropping out of school. Both Follin and Oblivion were students at The New School in New York before leaving to pursue a career in music.
They performed most of the tracks off their self-titled album as well as “The Curse” and “Slow Song”. Although Cults’ music is innocent and fun, Follin received applause at the end of “Heal Myself” for casually singing “f***” in a mix of other wise innocent and honest lyrics.
Additionally, they performed a cover of “Everybody Knows,” by Leonard Cohen. Retaining the same mood as the original version, Cults change the instrumentation, making it smoother, and overall an easier listen. While it’s likely that the shockingly large number of 30-something year-olds at the concert were more familiar with the song than any of the younger audience members, the cover was enjoyed by all regardless.
Unfortunately, Cults are not playing Coachella or Bonnaroo this year — as they are finishing their current tour, which takes them next through California. In the mean time I am anticipating the release of a new album.