“Everybody likes cake,” comedian Jim Gaffigan once said in his stand-up special, Beyond the Pale. He is 100 percent correct. Of course, he’s referring the wonderful edible goodness primarily associated with birthdays, but replace the band Cake and you’re still pretty accurate. Cake is a pretty kickass band for several reasons. For one, they have a distinguishable sound, although I used to think singer John McCrea kind of sounded like Beck (these thoughts diminished completely after Guero). Second, they’re usually a very party appropriate band. If you put on “The Distance” at a party, chances are people will either get down, get loud, or get out. And if they leave because of that song, they clearly shouldn’t have been at your party in the first place. But most importantly, Cake puts on a kickass live show, which we all know is crucial these days.
I have seen Cake twice in my life. Once was on their Unlimited Sunshine 2007 tour, with Brazilian Girls and King City. The other was when the band headlined a free show in Boston called Earth Fest. Both of these performances were unique experiences with intricate/different set lists. The first included a lot of older jams such as “Comanche”, “Carbon Monoxide”, and “Rock N’ Roll Lifestyle”, all at Boston’s Orpheum. That night also included transporting my friend Aaron across state lines in the trunk of a car, a drunken Harry Potter trivia battle on the Boston subway system, and my friend Max getting punched in the face repeatedly. The second show was a much more friendly experience for families and children, while the band played their better known tunes, including “Comfort Eagle”, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”, and their cover of “I Will Survive”. Needless to say, Cake know how to mix things up.
The first clip here is from Cake’s 2005 show right in their stomping grounds of northern California. And they’re not playing just anywhere in Nor-Cal. They’re rocking the stage of the Great American Music Hall, one of San Francisco’s notorious venues for their high caliber band selection and obscenely small space. Here, Cake is playing “Carbon Monoxide”, one of the band’s more upbeat songs that make you want to pogo like it’s a 2002 Good Charlotte show. This is one of their common live jams, and usually gets people boogying. For some reason, this live video is edited, but it still showcases how Cake slaps live. To see how they actually use all the instruments on their recordings is great. Horn player Vince DiFiore has no problem keeping up, while guitarist Xan McCurdy consistently crunches away.