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Cake Concert Review
Royce Hall (UCLA Campus)
Los Angeles, CA

by: John Paulsen

Paulsen Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Known mostly for their post-grunge radio hits like “The Distance” and “Never There,” Cake has deservedly earned the reputation of being an excellent live act. Touring in support of their fifth album, Pressure Chief, the band made its fourth Southland stop in eight months, appearing at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus as part of the Virgin College Mega Tour. Support was provided by Gomez and the Robbers on High Street.

LA crowds are notoriously fickle, but generally forgo their usual self-consciousness when Cake comes to town. Unfortunately, the venue didn’t allow alcohol in the theater, which seemed to contribute to the low level of energy in the venue. People shouldn’t need alcohol to be enthusiastic at a concert, but the simple fact is that most do, and frontman John McCrea was in no mood to deal with a laid back crowd. He provided moments of humor and moments of tough love, at one point flipping off a seated patron in the audience for having his arms crossed. Having played the night before and approaching the end of the tour, it seemed that the band was ready for a break. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a good concert, it’s just that the level of energy from the crowd and from the band didn’t meet those of your typical Cake show.

Despite regular pleas from the crowd for their fantastic cover of Bread’s “The Guitar Man,” the band only played three songs off of the new album - the first single “No Phone,” the second single “Wheels,” and the beautiful “End of the Movie.” During the anti-tech “No Phone,” McCrea led a boys versus girls sing along, looking for an “angry Viking chorus” from the former, directed at the recent advances in telecommunications that he believes force men to talk more than they really want to. The band did play most of their radio hits, performing the aforementioned “The Distance” and “Never There” along with “Short Skirt / Long Jacket” and “Sheep Go to Heaven.”

Xan McCurdy provided excellent guitar throughout the show, but he was most impressive on the underrated album tracks “Ruby Sees All” and the appropriately-titled “Guitar.” The stuttering axe present in the beginning of each of these songs is uniquely Cake. The show’s proximity to Cinco de Mayo is likely what prompted the performance of the underplayed gem “Mexico,” which provided one of the night’s biggest highlights. Vince Di Fiore worked his superb trumpeting into just about every song, but shined especially bright on “Frank Sinatra.”

In total, they performed sixteen songs in just under seventy-five minutes, and it’s hard to complain about the set list, as it did provide enough to satisfy the casual and die-hard fan alike. However, I’ve seen the band perform at least eight times and am still waiting to hear my favorite Cake song, “Italian Leather Sofa.” This, along with gems like “I Bombed Korea,” “The Guitar Man” and “Tougher Than It Is,” would be welcome additions to future Southland set lists.

Set list:

Sheep Go To Heaven
Frank Sinatra
Ruby Sees All
Stickshifts & Safetybelts
No Phone
Satan Is My Motor
Rock & Roll Lifestyle
Comfort Eagle
Never There

End Of The Movie
Short Skirt / Long Jacket
The Distance

Send any questions, comments or wine stories to jpaulsen@bullz-eye.com




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