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Review: CAKE Rocks New Orleans, Like Only CAKE Can

Cake is a band that a lot of people love, but don’t think about on a daily basis. They’re like Radiohead in the respect that in a lot of people’s minds, they’re the bands who wrote “Creep”, and “The Distance” while, any true fan gets red in the face over consternation with someone not knowing the whole, vastly impressive catalogs of each respective band.

To say that Cake is a “musical” band is an understatement, they’re a band that challenges a listener with an variety of styles that normally wouldn’t fit, but in Cake’s twisted world, somehow do. From rock to blues, to country, and back, it’s all there, and the result is a marvellous amalgamation of glorious noise.

This weekend Cake brought their musical menagerie to New Orleans, and the city of music was rewarded in spades. Playing at the odd choice of the Mahalia Jackson Theater, there was no opener, just straight Cake for 2 ½ hours. What followed took place was thoroughly excellent. Every sound, and subtlety of their eclectic sound was fully showcased. Every breathless pause in between the jangly head bobbing grooves was bigger, and funkier then on their records.

At first, the crowd took a little time to fill in and get settled. In New Orleans, shows don’t start well after 10pm, and we’re usually standing around at the bar even then. Everything in this town runs on it’s own time, except the Mahilia Jackson Theater it seems. Singer John McCrea assumed people were ditching the opening bands, it wasn’t that, we’re just not used to things starting early around here, ever. A show starting at 8pm in New Orleans is like one starting at 5pm anywhere else.

Another foreign concept to New Orleans: seats. New Orleans people aren’t used to seats at venues. They’re used to wiggling their asses, and being within arms length of a place for a cocktail at all times. As the set progressed, and the energy went through the roof, the inability to sit was paramount whereas before it was almost like being in church where it was a lot of “sit down, stand up, sit down stand up” stuff. But once songs like “Love you Madly” and “Short skirt and long jacket” fired people up, there was no sitting, just a lot of singing and merriment.

The overall scope of the event was oozing with music. Raw, and beautiful music everywhere. Cake has this incredible ability to showcase so many emotions, and take what was an empty space filled with seats into a party. Had there been no barriers, and no seats, the show would have been a low down, beer spilling funky dance fest. The set was divided from old favorites, but also featuring a few of their new songs which honestly were exceedingly pleasant in the mix. They didn’t lack anything, nor did they sound bland or over excited as so many bands do when playing their new songs that they always say “Are their best yet”.

Every song sounded perfect, every voice was deliciously crisp, guitarist Xan McCurdy’s tones, and pinpoint riffing was staggering as he rocked away on his Gibson Country Gentleman. The bass was low and filled the room with magnificent pacing, while the trumpet of Vince DiFiore made all red blooded New Orleanians applause, and howl every time a note pierced the ether. It seemed, for a moment that Cake were certainly in the zone, because the people, once warmed up gave them everything they had, and would have till the early hours. The impressive thing about where they played is that they were literally yards away from Congo Square where Jazz was born, and thus making way for a band like Cake, and all bands to exist. If they knew that, I suspect the ghosts of the past had elevated them into a place far beyond the rest of us just stood, smiling, and with our hands clapping.

Next time Cake comes back, I hope they choose a venue that doesn’t have a curfew as most in town do not. Then, we can see what kind of glorious chaos the band could bring back into our lives with no barriers, no seats, and just the music, and a lot of ass wiggling.

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