Chill on the Hill 2015 Part IV: JR JR, X Ambassadors, Cold War Kids, Coheed and Cambria, and Cage the Elephant

To say that I was excited to see JR JR (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) live again would be quite the understatement. They are currently one of my favorite bands and their show back in April of last year is still one of my favorite concerts of all time. The hometown boys wasted no time, kicking off their set with new track “As Time Goes” off their new self-titled album. This was the band’s first hometown show under their new moniker and it was great to see them get such a warm welcome home. The guys played a nice mix of new and old including their cover of “We Almost Lost Detroit,” which, of course, got the crowd pumped up and singing along at the top of their lungs. They also used the platform to announce their home show for their upcoming tour in November. JR JR’s show was everything I could have hoped for, except maybe a longer set, and November can’t come soon enough.

X Ambassadors put on a great show the last time I saw them with Arkells so I was interested to see them since their single, “Renegades,” has blown up. Of course the guys didn’t disappoint, brothers Sam (lead singer) and Casey (keyboardist) Harris were especially giving it their all, ensuring that the crowd had a great time and that they walked away with a few more fans at the end of the night. The guys kicked their set off with the non-stop energy track “Loveless,” and the crowd didn’t stop moving until the band closed out their set. Harris knew how to keep the crowd excited dedicating “Gorgeous” to Detroit because “you’re so God damned gorgeous!” It became basically impossible to stay near the stage the further the band got into their set because of how crazy the crowd was going especially when the band played “Renegades.” X Ambassadors is another band that I think could sway just about anyone to loving their music with their live show.

Cold War Kids has gained a myriad of new fans in Detroit since I saw them play Mo Pop last year. There were a lot more people standing up and singing along to their set this year but I really wasn’t surprised after my love for them was really ignited after seeing them last year. What I really loved about their set is that they play a great selection of old and new favorites including “Hang Me Out to Dry” and one of my current favorite songs, “First.” The best part of their set was when people near the center of the lawn began to flood down and stand just behind the last seats of the pavilion. The crowd grew to a pretty massive number before Nathan Willett took notice exclaiming “Where did all those people come from?” They were a giant mass of jumping bodies as the band closed out another fantastic set. I hope they do a headlining tour soon because I’d love to get a full set from the guys.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve listened to Coheed and Cambria regularly. The crowd went nuts as the band took the stage, many laughing when they saw Claudio Sanchez who let his curly locks loose and was basically just a giant mane of hair. While it didn’t rank among my favorite sets of the weekend, I did feel a sense of nostalgia during their set as there was a time when Coheed’s tunes dominated my playlists and it was great to hear some of my old favorites played live, especially when they busted out “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” at the end of their set. There were a lot of rock out moments which Coheed’s fans devoured and begged for more, grumbling when the band finally ended their set.

Cage the Elephant’s set was probably the one that I was anticipating the most. I’ve always been a fan, but it was the band’s sophomore album, Thank You, Happy Birthday, that really hooked me. I have heard that their live show is something that all concert lovers should witness at some point in their life and I’m happy to report that the hype was all true. Lead singer, Matthew Shultz, is a force of energy on the stage, never holding still for more than a few minutes. One of the best things of the night was watching Shultz’s microphone cord wrangler race around the stage as Shultz ran around and continuously dove into the crowd to sing with his fans. It was great seeing someone that just seems to live to be on stage performing for fans and who’s energy is fueled by how into the show the fans get. The set was packed with some of my favorite tracks that had the crowd screaming along at the tops of their lungs. Shultz dived into the crowd one last time to close out their set with “Sabertooth Tiger”, the crowd standing him up on their hands as he sang the final lines of the song as one of the guitarists tossed their guitar into the crowd causing a very frantic stage hand to dive in after it. Cage the Elephant was a great way to close out the weekend and there is little that will keep me from attending every show they play in Detroit from now on.

It was another great, albeit cold, Chill on the Hill weekend and I can’t wait to see the list of bands that fill the bill for Chill on the Hill 2016.

Make sure to check out the rest of our Chill on the Hill 2015 recap:
Part I featuring Arkells, Coleman Hell, Vinyl Theatre, Beartooth, Night Riots, and Thousand Foot Krutch
Part II featuring The Wombats, We Came As Romans, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Panic! At The Disco, and Weezer
Part III featuring Five Hundredth Year, Kaleido, The Struts, Civil Twilight, Robert DeLong, and The Glorious Sons