CAKE at the Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO on 10-15-16

CAKE began in the early nineties when Grunge was still dominating the airwaves. Instead of mumbling guys in flannel shirts, CAKE’s music had humor, trumpets, and a vibraslap (a percussion instrument that sounds like a rattlesnake with rhythm).  Their music crosses many genres.  They have covered Disco – Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, Country – Kenny Rogers’ Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town, and Heavy Metal – Black Sabbeth’s War Pigs.  Lead singer John McCrea is a man before his time.  He sported a Trucker Hat before Ashton Kutcher wore it on Punk’d and had a beard before your favorite Starbucks’ barista was born.

The show began with an announcement stating all photography would be prohibited. Anyone using a device will be escorted out of the venue.  This post doesn’t have any of the prohibited pictures.  I abide by an artist’s request … and I don’t want to be kicked out of a show.  Electronic music played a cheesy Rocky like theme song for several minutes to set the mood before the band took the stage.

Photo taken from a wolf shirt website

Dressed in a wolf tee shirt and a zipped hoodie, McCrea started the show with Oprah Singer from 2001 album Comfort Eagle.  From that moment on, the audience of mostly middle age men (hey – that’s me) started to sing … badly to every song (hey – that’s me too).   The top of the singers’ American flag boxer shorts appeared ever time he raised his hands making the few women in attendance hot and bothered or maybe just bothered.

After a few songs, John McCrea asked the crowd to put away their devices and enjoy the show to get the most of their entertainment value.  The stoned guys in front took pictures of the singer pleading for them not to take pictures.  Staying classy Boulder.

The sing along portion of the evening involved CAKE’s darker songs.  Starting with Sheep Go to Heaven from their 1998 album Prolonging the Magic.  The lyrics state, “As soon as you are born you start dying/So you might as well have a good time.” Giving everyone an excuse to yell along.  Half of the audience was instructed to sing “Sheep Go to Heaven” while the other half sang, “Goats Go to Hell.” McCrea conducted the audience like an orchestra while at the same time stating we all had “beautiful voices.” Satan is My Motor from the same album was introduced as “a song that is alright for a Christian Evangelists to sing because it’s just symbolism…mostly symbolism.”   The first set ended with Sick of You from their 2011 album Showroom of Compassion.  The crowd sang, “I’m so sick of you/So Sick of me/I don’t want to be with you.”

CAKE lead singer John McCrea and tree winner
Guinevere.  Photo taken from CAKE’s Social Media

After a fifteen minute intermission, the band came back to give away a tree.  You might think this is a strictly Boulder, Colorado incident.  But I saw CAKE give away a cherry tree in Denver in 2011 and a peach tree at Red Rocks in 2012.  After asking for only responsible individuals to participate, they gave an apple tree to new homeowner Guinevere.  You can track all of the trees they have given away at CAKE’s virtual forest on their website.

My favorite song Stick Shifts and Safety Belts from their 1996 album Fashion Nugget was next. The lyrics state, “Stick Shifts and Safety Belts/Bucket Seats/ All have to go/When I am driving in the car/It makes my baby seem so far.”  Guitar player Xan McCurdy played the fast paced country licks perfectly.

CAKE’s event poster

Never There, featuring the excellent trumpet playing of Vince DiFlore, encouraged the crowd to yell “Hey” loudly after every verse. Meanwhile, McCrea played his vibraslap during every dramatic pause to complete the signature CAKE sound.  After another sing along with Short Skirt/Long Jacket had the drunken crowd shouting about “a girl with a smooth liquidation and good dividends.”

The night ended with The Distance.  Inspiring an audience member to crowd surf causing their foot to land on the head of a ten year near the front of the stage.  It’s just good parenting to take a child to a concert full of drunk stoned smelly hairy guys.  The child who was wearing a Make America Cake Again red baseball hat was all right … physically.  Who knows what kind of emotional scars he will be sharing with his psychologist years from now?

See you at the next show.  I will be the one hoping we can make America CAKE again.

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