Photography: David Turcotte and Kristyn Clarke Review: Lawrence Cochran
A sold out capacity crowd watched on as five men walked onto the stage looking no different then you or me but, ninety minutes later, the whole crowd would leave happy. They were filled with a positive energy and message from five men who go on stage and do what they love and have a good time doing it. From the simple stage setup with just a drape with a nature scene behind it to the every man attire of the band, Cake decides to let their music do the talking instead of their image. The five men would walk on stage and break into their version of Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes” and the crowd would follow right along with them.
Vince DiFlore’s Trumpet stood out as something out of the ordinary for a rock band but Cake’s unique instrumental use is one of the things which makes them so much fun to watch. DiFlore would be on trumpet, keyboard, tambourine and even a recorder throughout the night while lead singer John McCrea would also break out his guitar on occasion and introduced me to an instrument known as a Vibraslap. According to Wikipedia, it is a modern version of the jawbone. It’s a percussion instrument made of a stiff piece of metal wire bent in a U-shape connecting a wooden ball to a hollow wooden box containing metal teeth inside. McCrea held the instrument by the metal wire in one hand and would hit the ball against his hand (and the hands of fans occasionally) to create musical vibrations.
After the Willie Nelson cover, Cake followed it up with their homage “Frank Sinatra” and another classic track called “Opera Singer.” A small minority of the crowd was still filing in at this point and McCrea would start his witty banter with the crowd by asking people not to shout out songs for the band to play especially if they were late because it would “embarrass them and the band both” to which a heckler responded with “Opera Singer.” McCrea handled it with good humor and the band continued with their music mixing up old and new tracks in what would be two forty five minute sets with a fifteen minute intermission between them.
Some of the highlights from the first set included McCrea leading the crowd in a singalong of “Satan is My Motor” using witty banter to assure the crowd that there was no religious connotation to it just wanting everyone to acknowledge that they have a dark side. The band also broke out “Long Time” from their new #1 Billboard charting album Showroom of Compassion which was the performance shown later that night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The crowd would also come to their feet for “Sheep Go To Heaven” which was eliciting a crescendoing sing along with the crowd and McCrea pushing for more. The first set would end with “Love You Madly” off of Comfort Eagle leaving the crowd spent and ready for a break before the music rolled on.
Highlights of the second set included the band talking about the most interesting accessory on the stage which was a tree seedling. Cake is known as “one of the greenest bands” around and a great example of it is the fact that they converted their recording studio to completely work on solar power. McCrea would ask the crowd a question, “Where does parchment come from?” and made the crowd raise their hands to answer, a gentlemen named Cameron was picked and he got the correct answer which was “sheepskin.“ He would end up on stage and be given the tree but McCrea made him promise to send a picture to Cakemusic.com showing him and the planted tree so that the fans could track the progress of the trees over time and throughout the country. The band would also break out “Federal Funding” off the new album as well as their classic “Italian Leather Sofa” among more of their classic. The band also played “Sick of You” from the new album and a harmony battle between the sides of the venue with one side singing “I’m so sick of you, so sick of me. I don’t want to be with you” and the other side singing “I want to fly away” to leave the crowd happy and ready for a break. The second set would end with another major single “Never There” as the crowd clapped, stomped their feet and chanted “Cake” over and over again.
The band were off stage for a few minutes and returned to the happy crowd to give the fans what they wanted with a three song encore that included the singalong “Wheels” and arguably their two most popular original songs “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and “The Distance.” The band and the music had the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout the entire evening and a sold out crowd left the Keswick Theatre with their Cake fix and an evening well spent.
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About the reviewer
Kristyn Clarke (KClarke)
Mar 9, 2011
Aug 3, 2011 10:49 PM UTC
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CAKE is an American alternative rock band from Sacramento, California. Noted for their idiosyncratic approach to music, CAKE became popular in the late 1990s with their album Fashion Nugget, which spawned several singles, with "The Distance" being the highest-charting single. CAKE's musical style is characterized by lead singer John McCrea's half-sung, half-spoken vocals and lyrical wordplay. The band has switched out several members in the years since its first album, Motorcade of Generosity, in 1994. Their sixth full-length album, Showroom of Compassion, was released on January 11, 2011, and debuted at the number 1 position on the Billboard 200; a first for the band.