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Cake shows no compassion at Artpark

by jmaloni
Tue, May 24th 2011 06:50 pm

... And it was awesome

Review by Joshua Maloni

It wasn't immediately obvious what John McCrea was getting at.

When the Cake frontman ribbed fans Saturday who arrived late for the Sacramento band's show at Artpark, it seemed like it was just for kicks.

"We're opening for ourselves," he said. "If you arrived late, don't request songs. It's humiliating for both of us."

Unaware there wasn't another opening act, many concertgoers filed into the Lewiston performing arts venue one or two songs into Cake's first set. McCrea, who ever so subtly teased the latecomers, noted this offense.

Little did they know his sarcasm was also a warning.

It wasn't until later that they discovered Cake's proclivity for punctuality. As a means to further the character trait, those fans who were late walking back from intermission missed the beginning of Cake's second set. ... And "The Distance," the band's chart-topping song from 1996's "Fashion Nugget."

It seemed likely Cake would save that song until the very end, but no, that wasn't the case. As they say: Shuffle your feet, lose your seat. Or, in this case, miss the best song of the night.

In a sense, it was unfortunate. But, for the rest of us, it was kind of awesome.

Now, I'm not saying I don't feel bad for those who missed "The Distance." I do. But, this brash display was another in a nightlong series of acts that demonstrated just how irreverent and bold Cake is as a band.

As much as the 2,000-plus in attendance came to be entertained, it was obvious they were also there to entertain McCrea, who was decked out in a brown wool coat, red T-shirt and blue jeans. The frontman twice set the left side of the theater against the ride side in a battle for vocal supremacy; McCrea mounted a one-man campaign to bring back three-four time; heck, he even awarded a honey crisp apple tree to Sharon, a lucky woman in a red T-shirt.

"I think it's time to get rid of this beautiful tree," McCrea said of the blossoming plant formerly situated to his left. As the audience lovingly booed, he said, "That might be unprecedented in the world of rock. I'm not sure."

He told Sharon it was her duty to plant the tree, take care of it, and send lots of pictures to the Cake website to update the band and Artpark patrons on its growth.

All night, McCrea offered matter-of-fact comments.

To stragglers: "Is everybody seated? Is everybody comfortable tonight?"

Of intermission: "Collect your thoughts; talk to your friends; do whatever you want. You're free."

Finding a red light in the audience: "That person is recording this show. Which I asked you not to do!"

Taken at face value, these comments might've stung the unsuspecting ticket holder. But this is a band that came on stage to music that has to have been featured in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Clearly, the guys just want to have fun. And, knowing Cake's sarcastic nature, McCrea's words were just funny and good-natured (and were received in that capacity). It was a fun start to Artpark's concert season.

In between jabs and eco lessons, Cake performed two hour-long sets, which featured songs from the band's new album, "Showroom of Compassion" (including "Sick of You"). McCrea, in his noted fashion, also speak-sung hits including "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle," "The Distance," "Never There" and "Short Skirt/Long Jacket." Cake began the show with a cover of Willie Nelson's "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and closed the night with a cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." 

Click here for Cake's setlist

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