Saturday, April 16, 2011

Skip Serpico's Concert Adventures - CAKE @ 9:30 Club 4/14/11

When I saw that CAKE was heading out on tour to support their latest album I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was really looking forward to seeing them live.  But on the other hand, I wasn't eager to travel all the way to Washington DC's 9:30 Club to see them.

I live in Baltimore, seeing a band shouldn't be a chore. I was really hoping that they'd pull a Yorn & Kweller and announce a Baltimore show.

They didn't. Instead they announced two more shows at 9:30 Club. I saw them Thursday, their first of a three night stay.

There were people lined up outside 9:30 Club as early as 6pm.  Parents brought their CAKE loving elementary school age kids while other high school age kids were being dropped off by their parents.  The diversity in the age of CAKE fans was pretty impressive.  

Once inside, as the showtime neared audience began to buzz with speculation about who the opening act was.  Concert goers quizzing each other and racking their brains trying to recall who was standing in between the people and their beloved CAKE.  

Shortly after 8pm the opener was revealed to be...CAKE.  The night began with Sad Songs & Waltzes, which had the audience swaying and singing along.

Lead singer John McCrea explained that CAKE would be opening for themselves, then there would be an intermission before which CAKE would return to the stage to headline.  It was both unique and traditional, and actually quite refreshing.

The show itself was thoroughly enjoyable as CAKE played songs from their entire catalogue.  Fashion Nugget and their latest offering, Showroom of Compassion were featured the most heavily, but every album made an appearance.

CAKE's fans are so diehard that it seemed no matter which song was played, it was someone in the audience's favorite song and they were singing along with all their heart.  "The Distance" and "Never There" were obviously crowd pleasers, but songs like "Arco Arena" and "Italian Leather Sofa" also got love.

Every member of the band had their time to shine.  Vince DiFiore and Gabe Nelson both provided the crucial CAKE elements of trumpet and bass respectively.  DiFiore, up front, also manned the keyboard, while Nelson was grooving quietly in the back.

Xan McCurdy cut loose a few times to showcase his lead guitar skills, which received hearty applause from the crowd.  Last but but least Paulo Baldi pounded away at the drums and didn't quite get the attention that he deserved.  

"Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and "Sick of You" both featured audience participation with McCrea dividing up the audience to help with the choruses.  A friendly rivalry ensured, akin to that of a high school pep rally.  Fun was had by all.

Throughout the night John McCrea spoke on a variety of things.  He thanked the audience for supporting the band, despite their lack of major label promotion.  He thanked the fans for frequenting their website. He remarked how surprised they were that their sixth release reached the top of the charts, momentarily.  He also explained the intermission; he's not one for experiencing music for extended periods of time and he needs to break up the experience to fully enjoy it.

Speaking of the intermission, when the show resumed McCrea gave away the customary tree at a CAKE concert.  (The renowned eco-friendly band gives away a tree at every gig.)  The giveaway was easy, all you had to do was answer a trivia question. But first McCrea had to be sure that the tree was going to a good home with someone who would care for it.  It had to be someone with a yard, or who worked at a school or something of the like.

The question was what historical event took place on that night in DC.  Joe, a high school teacher, correctly answered that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Joe made his way to the stage and swore an oath before the entire audience that he would plant the tree not only send a picture of him and the tree to CAKE's website, but periodically do so.

The concert was a really dope show.  CAKE displayed their activism without being forceful about it and really made for a fun experience.  If there was a downside, it's since it's a three night stay, only going to one show can be tortuous.

Case in point.  On Friday night two of my favorite CAKE songs "Satan is My Motor" and "Jolene" were played.   And I wasn't there.  Boo.

I would say that you should check them out at 9:30 Club, but tonight's show has been sold out for weeks.  Still, if their coming to a venue near you, it's certainly a concert  you should experience


  1. dude, read your review and I disagree in many respects. I thought the music was oustanding but found John McCrea to be self-indulgent bordering on total douchey. The long intermission and the tree giveaway were buzz-kills and the total amount of music played for price and for average 930 club show was totally unacceptable.

  2. I can totally see where you're coming from. If I'd been in a worse mood or around people who weren't totally eating up everything McCrea did I probably would have found him just as self-indulgent and bordering on duchey as you did. But his stuff killed up front.

    I did not mind the intermission or the tree giveaway. But I'll admit that the set did seem a bit brief. I hadn't been at 930 in over a decade, so I can't speak on averages.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...