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Stale Cake: A Concert Review

Yesterday morning I was greeted with some of the best news I'd received in a long time. Cake was going to play a secret show at the Blue Lamp that night. I've become aware of two other secret Cake shows since living in Sacramento, the first I found out about the day after, the second we arrived too late and listened to the band from the street.
The venue fills up quickly so this time I didn't risk it. I rode over to the venue around 6:00 and saw the band getting their picture taken under the over-pass. By the time I arrived the line was already 15 people deep.
Luke showed up a little after 7:30 and the doors opened at 7:45, band took the stage exactly at 9:00.
So far the night's going great, amazing really.
We joke about Cake being the reason we moved to Sacramento. Cake is one of my top favorite bands, or at least was one of my top favorite bands.
The show opened with "Walk On By," an oldie and a goodie. I imagined him walking down the streets of Sacramento, passing his ex's house maybe in Midtown or Land Park, I don't know he didn't say. Then they played "Friend is a Four Letter Word," and I love that song, but found myself wishing they would play some happier songs.  "Wheels" was the next song, excellent, really fun, we danced and sang along, feeling so happy.
They played some more sort-of obscure songs (no real hits, like "The Distance," "Short Skirt Long Jacket," or even "Building a Religion"). This, I have no problem with, it was a really intimate, true-fans only kind of a show. They did play "Rock'n Roll Lifestyle" but only after lecturing the crowd about stealing music and complaining about how he makes less than a dentist. I, for one, was offended that he would assume we all stole his music and haven't already pre-ordered the new album (which I did).
They took a break and when they came back they played songs off the new album. Again, fine, but it was his attitude.
He treated the crowd like unruly junior-high school kids who he had to educate about the economics of the music industry and how much garbage each one of us makes in a day. He accused us of not caring about the disappearing salmon because we're "cow" people. He said since we only paid $10 for the show they were going to play whatever they wanted and they didn't need song suggestions.
So by the end of the set I was over it. My feet were killing me from standing for five hours and I felt like he didn't even care about how much I loved their music or what I went through to make sure I could be there.
There was a strict no photography rule in the venue, so I didn't get any pictures of the show. However, I did get some memories and used my memories to draw and paint this picture of John McCrea.

 Here's a blogger I found who felt the same way about John's stage presence when he played in Philadelphia, so it's not just because it was a home show.


Hey Melody, I'm sorry you were disappointed by the "secret" CAKE show and your expectations clouded your experience. It is sad to hear that your cake fell of its pedestal.

However, and please no one take this unkindly, this is not "stale CAKE" as your titles suggests, but "classic CAKE." That is John, singer-songwriter-frontman to Sacramento's indie star band from the 1990's. John IS surly, didactic and accusatory in tone, always has been. The band,and the frontman in general have always been intensely private, and if you were an an more long time fan (and Sactown resident from their early days) none of his behavior would raise an eyebrow. That is just the way he is.

CAKE/McCrea are also pithy, dry witted, intelligent and gifted with mega-talent, and the band's collective force can certainly get your butt moving. That really is all one should expect from CAKE. So please don't feel crummy about the band, that's just the way they are.

As for you, dear new pal, you certainly sounding like a Sac native, because it seems to be a hobby of locals to try to take down the few that quote-unquote made it over from our small pond to a bigger one.

Everyone seems to LOVE talking shit about CAKE, all the while still loving them, which is probably why we can't have it and eat it too.
Forevermelody said…
Yeah, I believe you, Bella.
We saw Cake in Portland about four years ago, with the Violent Femmes and the Decemberists - and they were awesome. He was surly then, but i didn't feel so ... I dun know, attacked? Maybe cause I was farther away from him at the time.
I guess I'm glad nothing's changes. I just was hoping he's be nicer.
By the name I meant, "It looks pretty and you're really excited to eat it, but when you take a bite you're disappointed."
Forevermelody said…
Oooh and I try not to talk shit - or tear people down - i just like to explain my musical experiences - this blog used to be entirely about shows and bands when I worked up in Humboldt.
Anonymous said…
Um, Citizen Rosebud, you are sickening. And full of shit.

I saw Cake at the Mateel Center in Hum. Co. in 1998. They were awesome AND polite. McCrea was sick with a bad cold and did a full set anyway. And after the show, he hung out and chit-chatted with all of us.

Melody, sucks when anyone in a band is an asshole. Fuck him.

I'm not even going to address the christine blather...

but Melody: it's not that he's that way all the time, I guess I just wanted you to know it's not the fame...that's a facet of his personality and that personality writes some pretty amazing music... And Christine is right in noting there are times when he is sweet as pie. Charming and sweet. I regret you didn't get the chance to see that side of John. And I truly hope this doesn't ruin your experience of CAKE.
Anonymous said…
I saw the band at Knitting Factory in Reno. This was my second time at a Cake concert. The first was absolutely fantastic. One of the best shows I have seen. My first concert was Aerosmith, after their second album, so I have seen a few.
The Reno show was shit, and nothing more. 6 sings, then a break of 20 minutes. A few more songs and then they did some stick about guessing the species of tree that was a prop on stage. That blew off about 20 more minutes. Then about 4 more songs and gone.
The performance was uninspired, his voice duller than monotone and often so out of rhythm it seemed like he was just going through the ritual without even being there.
Never again. And I will download their latest work for free, to get some of my money back.

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