"You Too" and Stuff...

If it's "a penny for your thoughts" but you have to "put your two cents in", someone is making a penny somewhere.

Friday, April 22, 2005

I Like CAKE !!

It happened, it's done and over with and I'm still reeling. Wednesday night, Jen and I went to see CAKE in Champaign. The show was amazing!

We reached the Assembly Hall in record time. I was able to turn the 1.5 hour drive into a 45-minute venture. I don't know if I was just really excited or I was trying to beat the oncoming storm, but we made it. Along the way, we jammed out to CAKE, of course. Jen and I usually have a hard time staying on task so, as usual, we multi-tasked in the car. Jen was able to make this kick-ass sign to hold up to passing motorists while I drove at warp speeds. (pic coming soon...) We also managed to down an entire bag of Flamin' Hot Munchies.

When we reached the Assembly Hall, we snagged a great parking space close to the door for a small fee of $5. The investment was worth it if we were welcomed by a downpour after the show. Not surprisingly, we also learned that everything else inside the Assembly Hall was not worth the money. We ended up paying $5 for a small drink and a hot dog. Band T-shirts, nothing that you couldn't get on the band's website, were selling for $25 a pop.

We meandered around the building for a while we waited for the first band to begin. It was announced at this time that the first band would start at 7:30, the second at 8:30, and CAKE at 10:00, a little later than we expected. Jen and I were excited when we found our seats. They were dead-center in the seventh row, high enough up to see over all of the UIUC students who had used their discount for general admission, standing room only spots.

Maybe because the place was swarming with students or the fact that sports were actually played in the hall, but there was a nasty odor of locker room/stale unkept dorm floating in the air. The location of the entrance to the actual arena was perfect for us...close enough to the expensive food and right next to the table where we learned that CAKE would be autographing posters (pic to come...) for fans thanks to Virgin Megastores, the tour's sponsor. We picked up our posters and, luckily, Jen was carrying a normal sized purse compared to my small safari bag so she was able to tote the posters around convienently without them getting smashed.

The first band to play was "Robbers on High Street" from New York....brilliant...really, really great stuff. I was in love from the moment that they stepped onto the stage. It's really no secret that I'm in love with nerdy guys, especially smart nerdy guys, and especially, especially nerdy guys with musical talent and especially, especially, especially nerdy guys with big noses...it's a turn on, don't know why, always has been. I love them...I even have two t-shirts proclaiming so. Although the lead guitarist looked a little like an elf and I wasn't really close enough to assess the nose situation... Anyway, enough about my obsessions, the band was great. They sounded a little like Coldplay, but not quite emo enough and lacking too much Gwenyth to be Coldplay. I highly recommend their debut CD, "Tree City" . Give a happy listen to "Beneath the Trees", "Dig the Lightning", and "Big Winter." It's been the only thing I've listened to in my car since I've returned, and if you know me, you know how I can never listen to an entire CD without tiring of it and throwing something else in. These boys are gonna be huge I tell ya! And they've got a sense of humor to boot. If you've ever been to the Assembly Hall, you know that it is massive. They stepped on stage and the lead singer says, "I don't know how to react. We're used to playing bigger places than this. 2,500 is a pretty small venue for us." You know that this tour with CAKE was a big deal for them and their first real gig because they were packing up their own equipment when they were finished and carrying it off stage. You go guys!

The second band, which my lame ass had never heard of, but obviously had a pretty big following at UIUC was Gomez. They're six guys from England with an interesting alternative/celtic/acoustic/rootsy sound who evidently didn't think that the crowd was moving around enough. One member, who was playing keyboards and guitar and resembled Jack Black/Jack Osbourne, commented that in England "when Gomez plays, people fucking move around." This seemed to get the crowd going. They had a fun sound to them, however the lead singer, who reminded me for some reason of the Russian guy from "Rocky" and I have no idea why, didn't impress me. He was a little stiff and sounded too much like Eddie Vedder for my taste. The voice didn't go well with the music...again, just my opinion. Let the hate mail flow as it may...

Jen and I only sat through about six of their songs because we were anxious to meet the CAKE. When we went outside to the lobby, a huge line had already formed, but we assumed it would go rather quickly. An older female member of Assembly Hall security was playing bouncer, trying to round people up and explain the rules of standing in a line. I thought that we had all learned this in Kindergarten, but there must have been something additional that she thought we should know. I was waiting for her to bust out with "no buts, no cuts, no coconuts", but I was disappointed. So we waited and waited some more and waited a little longer...missing Gomez as we waited. There was a little bit of amusement as we read people's printed t-shirts that everyone, including myself, seem to be wearing now. One guy was wearing a Warrant "Cherry Pie" t-shirt, complete with Bobbi Brown's picture on the hood of a car and another guy was wearing a shirt that simply stated, "I'm going to blog this." I really need to get one of those. It made me chuckle.

CAKE finally came out and gathered around the table...and then we were informed by another Assembly Hall, rent-a-cop that they were only going to be meeting and autographing those things that belonged to the first 50 people in line. C'mon now! Jen was hoping to get her poster autographed for her 5-year old son who is also a CAKE fan, but bedtime prevented him from joining us. How disappointing! Jen and I even toyed with the idea of getting some strangers to just sign their names on the poster claiming that he'd never know the difference...and we would have...but we couldn't have lived with ourselves knowing how low we would stoop and what filthy lies we would tell to please little "E". Even though they didn't get to meet us up close and personal, we were still able to go up to the balcony right above and glare at them really hard with judgement, hoping that the pain would pierce their hearts just a little. I was surprised to see, and I'm not just saying this because they let us down tremendously, that they weren't the young spry guys that I thought they were. They looked like they could've been in their late 30's, early 40's. To cope with our feelings of despair and grief, Jen and I made up this little rap/rhyme/ditty:

"You guys called CAKE, You made a mistake. You didn't sign our posters so your discs are in our toasters."
Was their failure to engage in conversation enough to make us turn our backs on this group of guys we loved so much?
Jen and I returned to our seats ready to see if CAKE could possibly redeem themselves. As we waited for the show to start, we were trying to figure out if a nearby guy was holding a pink flamingo with no feet and no beak or if it was some type of model of a stomach...strange. The roadies unveiled a new backdrop, a serene little painting of mountains. CAKE in the Alps...nice.
The excited energy was building, the students were becoming restless, and the lights went down. The band approached the stage. Glorious sounds of applause and familiar tunes filled the air, while the miscellaneous musician to the singer's left played the trumpet and keyboard and the lead singer's unique voice began to do what it does best. I was amazed that the music sounded so much like it does on the CD. That may sound like a stupid comment, but CAKE's music is composed of lots of interesting and sometimes unidentifiable sounds, which I wasn't expecting to hear when they performed live. The lead singer was interactive with the crowd, subtley throwing out political opinions disguised as funny audience banter. For example, during one song where he was encouraging audience participation, he compared the top balconies and the main floor, stating that the people on the bottom were doing all of the work while those above were just sitting there trying to take credit. It was only one of several humorous moments throughout their show. The playlist is as follows, but not in the same order:
"Sheep Go to Heaven"
"Satan is My Motor" (During this song, he tried to get everyone to acknowledge their dark side and sing along...very amusing...)
"Mexico" ("because everyone loves a song in 3/4 time...")
"Never There"
"No Phone"
"Comfort Eagle"
"Frank Sinatra"
"The Distance"
"Stickshifts and Safetybelts" (they said that they very rarely ever play this one live..)
"Pentagram" (Encore) ("There are more important issues in the world than education and politics that we are forgetting about...")
"Jolene" (Encore) (dedicated to the "irritating motherfuckers" who wouldn't stop screaming in the their face throughout the show requesting this song...)
I was extremely surprised with the songs that they played or, rather, the songs that they chose not to play. The concert was obviously aimed at those old die-hard CAKE fans or else I'm sure they would've played their cover of "I Will Survive" or "Short Skirt/Long Jacket", the song that launched them back onto MTV after "The Distance" calmed down as well as the song that made them sell more copies of "Comfort Eagle" than any of their other CDs. I also thought that the show would be "Pressure Chief" heavy, but they only played 2 songs from their newest CD. Again, I think that they were presenting the show as a big old "thank you" to existing fans rather than being concerned with gaining new ones. I think that the main reason that I love CAKE so much, over than their music being so damn clever, is that I'll never have to worry about them pulling a "Janeane Garofalo" and selling out on me.
Toward the end of the show, the lead singer stated that he had bronchitis, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by the performance that he gave. He is an appreciative showman with a "don't give a shit unless it's good for humanity" kinda attitude. And that voice! Do I need to mention it again? So memorable...the music wouldn't be the same without him. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of a live CD...how much fun would that be?
Well, there you have it...my review of the evening in a nutshell. It was a great experience and can't wait to party on down with CAKE again soon...oh, and let's not forget the group of amazing groups of nerdy New York boys known as "Robbers on High Street" ...I'm serious...ya really gotta check 'em out!


Anonymous The Lone Arranger said...

I guess this means that you can't have your CAKE and meet them too. Sounds like you had fun anyway.

1:58 PM  

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