Ep.435 – Cake @ Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN 1-20-11
Jan 30th, 2011
Category: Cake, Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, Video Concert Reviews
Cake was one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Ryman – right up there with Willie Nelson. I never put much thought into Cake before, but they kept popping up on my Beck Pandora playlist, and I loved everything I heard. They are experimental and crafty; yet fun and feel-good, even when the lyrics may be a tad depressing. They’ve concocted a formula that caters to and is appreciated by both “music snobs” and to those that prefer “mindless” material. Quite a feat.
Seeing Cake live definitely boosts that appreciation. Despite the snow, the house was full; no opening act, two sets of Cake, and an exit early enough for me to get home safely and be at work on time in the morning. It was a sparse set consisting of a disco ball and a mountain painting backdrop, which fondly reminded me of Bob Ross. I’m assuming the mountain stems from the band’s focus on protecting our environment. If you check out Cake’s website, there are many informative posts on the topic, in addition to interesting information on the band.
There wasn’t a mundane moment. From the beginning, where frontman, John McCrea, entered wearing white gloves and messed up the opening number to which he responded,
“I apologize. I had one sip of wine and screwed up the lyrics to that song. That’s how you know I’m not animatronic.”
There were a couple of sing-a-longs, including “Sheep Go to Heaven,” which I couldn’t get out of my head for days. A favorite moment was the tree give-a-way, where members of the crowd were asked to guess what kind of tree was on stage. The winner got to take the tree home, plant it, and was asked to keep Cake updated on the tree’s progress by submitting pictures to their website – a creative way to promote environmental awareness.
Cake closed with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and, of course, their mainstream hit, “The Distance.”
Another highlight for me – every time McCrea picked up that Vibraslap. I couldn’t help smirk and get a little giddy. Maybe it takes me back to playing with the doorstop as a kid at grandma’s, but that sound is more energizing than a cowbell. I also loved how they incorporated one of those piano whistle toys (maybe it was an actual melodica). The littlest quirks add so much, not to downplay the detailed musicianship and diversity in their repertoire. Each song has it’s own musical persona with a strong Cake backbone. I will make it a point to see them any time they come around, and I pray to God they’ll be on the Bonnaroo line-up this year.
Be sure to check out Cake’s new album, “Showroom of Compassion.” It recently reached #1 on the Billboard chart. You can see more pictures from the Nashville show HERE!
Some quotes from www.cakesmusic.com:
“We still exist probably because we’ve always stayed outside of current trends, watched them inflate and deflate. We’ve never been invited to the party, so we’ve never had to leave the party when the police arrived. It’s a sad and beautiful world.” – John McCrea
“It takes strong songwriting, a consistent work ethic, an ability to adapt, and a recognizable sound to survive. Of the greatest importance is a band that has strong individualism, plus a strong recognition of the need to cooperate.” – Vince DiFiore