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Review: CAKE At The Palace Theater In Connecticut

Vince DiFiore of CAKE

As if on the front steps of a run down New Orleans bar, Vince DiFiore sits backstage, secluded from the world, pushing air through his silver trumpet. He jams along with himself, a man without an audience, playing only for the benefit of his own ears. Just out of view are thousands of fans. Still there he sits, lit only by a glowing blue stage lamp, minutes from taking the stage in Connecticut with his band. CAKE.

Together since 1991, CAKE has helped to define a genre that does not feature many members. An obscure mix of country, rock n” roll, poetry and Motown, the band struggles to define their own sound. Vince told me a few years back of an early review in a Sacramento rag. They defined CAKE as Willie Nelson mixed with Sly And the Family Stone playing AC/DC records. Backwards. “It”s basically a combination of a lot of American styles” Vince concluded.

Each member of the band seems to have their own tastes, their own unique style. As Vince continued to croon on his trumpet, drummer Paulo Baldi sat with a tall blonde in a downstairs room watching a playoff hockey game. Baldi warms up, holding a pair of drum sticks as he paradiddles on his sneakers. Both men seem locked in, both holding their instruments and waiting for the call.

This secluded moment for DiFiore was not his first of the day. The soft spoken man had spent a portion of the bands sound check crouched in a back row seat inside the Palace Theater. While a sound engineer yelled “bass…ok…guitar…ok…” DiFiore went through his own private sound check, fine tuning his sound for the elegant theater they would be performing in that evening.

As if woken from a drunken stupor, DiFiore pops up, joining the rest of his band in the dressing room just a minute or two before the scheduled start time. After hours of crooning alone, he was ready for a rock “n” roll show.

As the crowd continues to file into the theater, the largest venue CAKE will play on their tour

, the lights are suddenly dimmed and the band gathers backstage. As an ode to all things non-CAKE, a seven minute song begins to blare from the PA system. This was not a song from their world. It was something that would be played at the Olympics before the lighting of a torch. The irony was palpable.

Finally, as the Rocky Theme helped to conclude the epic song, CAKE took the stage to a standing ovation. There is something to be said about the unbridled anticipation that builds in a crowd over the course of seven minutes. On stage to defy all logic, CAKE kicked off their set with a few slow ballads, lulling the audience into a sense of insecurity. Finally they began to tear through upbeat anthems like “Sheep Go To Heaven” and “Never There.”

The crowd seemed equally enthused by new songs like “Long Time,” a song the band sound checked twice before the show. Still, there was a clear lean towards the classics. The audience, made up of all shapes, sizes and ages hung on every word of “Love You Madly” and were driven to a lengthy ovation as CAKE concluded their set with “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” followed closely by “The Distance.”

Just as quickly as they had begun, CAKE left the stage. The show was over and the encores concluded, as the band retreated to their dressing room, chatting about the show, plans for the rest of the night and the tours next stop. It was then that a single image entered my field of view. Vince DiFiore stood at the entrance to the bands dressing room, talking to his bandmates, clutching the trumpet that he had been playing nearly the entire day behind his back. It seemed as if letting it go had become a chore onto itself.

This picture was taken by Bradford Mahler. Picture is of Vince DiFiore on stage in Waterbury with me in the background posting a Tweet.

Harris Decker was at the show, working as a marketing representative for the promoter, Premier Concerts. His opinions are his own and in no way were his opinions shifted by his business relationships with the event.

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