How much is enough? In the case of CAKE music lovers, too much is not enough. Fans will certainly get their fill this weekend as the Sacramento, California band will spend about a week in our neck of the woods. First up is the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend May 25, then Sasquatch! Music Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater May 27. Next is a quick pit stop in the Rose City for two dates at The Doug Fir, May 28 and 29. Although their Bend date was billed as their only Oregon appearance when tickets first went on sale, they will be playing another summer concert in Oregon, August 24 at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville, OR. Tickets are still available.
Approaching 20 years together and with passionate following of loyal fans, CAKE continues to defy all convention with their DIY approach to playing, recording, and touring, not to mention, promoting civic duty. Self taught engineers on their recording projects, they have recently constructed solar-powered studio, which actually generates more power than is needed to run it. Starting your own record label isn’t anything new, but why not when you’ve done so much to achieve sustainability?
When they’re not attending to commentary on social awareness and providing whimsical cerebral antidotes on their websites, the ever iconic frontman John McCrea is the captain of this musical joy ride. While covering vocals, guitar & vocals, McCrea is supported by guitarist/keyboardist Xan McCurdy, trumpet player Vince di Fiore, bass player Gabe Nelson, and drummer Paulo Baldi.
CAKE unleashed its backlash of everything that was the 90s with their humorous 1994 debut, Motorcade of Generosity. While rock and roll has always represented rebellion and call to social action, out of the gate McCrea and company were out to skewer American culture. In the name of equal opportunity, tracks like Comanche, Pentagram, or Jesus Wrote A Blank Check, saw CAKE just warming up. Including their tongue check parody of Rock and Roll Lifestyle, mocking the attitude of rock and roll cool.
Fashion Nugget upped the ante, with notable attention and airplay given to The Distance and creative and colorful cover of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, CAKE was officially on the map. But they weren’t shy about letting it all hangout on Nugget, also having a respect for oldies and recording the much covered 1940s Cuban song, Quizás, Quizás, Quizás. Although, with not quite the charm of Trini Lopez but in true CAKE fashion.
Prolonging The Magic saw the band step it up musically. Radio favorite, Never There, addresses romantic tension, but other gems sparkled just as brightly like Satan Is My Motor and Sheep Go To Heaven. And who could forget watching the sunset from an Alpha Beta parking lot? Ironically, the sun set on the few remaining stores of the once popular California-based grocery chain as CAKE was making a name for themselves.
2001 saw the release of Comfort Eagle, and remains true McCrea sarcasm yet delivers a more rocking approach with radio and fan favorites, Short Skirt/Long Jacket, and Love You Madly. McCrea jokingly identifies the woman and relationship everyone American male is searching for, but with a sincere earnestness you might not expect.
2004 came Pressure Chief, which delves in to more social observations, taking aim at a depleted ozone layer in Carbon Monoxide, crooning sincerely on She’ll Hang the Baskets, or an enduing penchant for 70s covers and offering a 70s-esque rendition of Bread’s ode, The Guitar Man, adding yet another quirky cover choice to the group’s pantheon.
Speaking of covers, Cake covers the rock roll, R&B spectrum, picking personal gems from the likes of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, Kenny Roger’s Don’t Take Your Love Town and Barry White’s Never, Never Give You Up on B-Sides and Rarities. McCrea and company know what they like and honor those artist’s contributions.
Which brings us to their latest studio album, 2011’s Showroom of Compassion. True to form, John McCrea is noted for unspooling dry observations in his usual deadpan manner. And if there’s a musical trademark to CAKE’s sound, it’s the trumpet lines on Long Time, displaying their mariachi-funk and leaving fans and critics alike, sounding the horn that Showroom is classic CAKE.
If you’re not already at Sasquatch already, hopefully you were able to grab tickets to one of their other shows. A treat for fans who can never, ever, get enough CAKE.