Alternative rock band CAKE concluded their three-night Atlanta concert series on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at Center Stage. Dubbed an “An Evening with CAKE,” the event was one of seven stops on the band’s Showroom of Compassion Tour, which promoted the release of their new album of the same name.
Known for their unique musical and lyrical styles, CAKE delighted fans with a three-hour performance that sampled from the band’s extensive discography.
CAKE opened the night with a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes” off of their platinum selling, second studio album, Fashion Nugget. The band also revisited fan-favorite classics like “Opera Singer,” “Frank Sinatra” and “Shadow Stabbing.” Regular pleas from the crowd for their favorite songs were, surprisingly, often answered, and CAKE performed many deeper tracks, including “Jolene,” “Haze of Love” and “Guitar.” Unlike many bands, CAKE is known for not using predetermined set lists during shows and at many points during the concert, asked fans which songs they might want to hear.
Hailing from Sacramento, Calif. and founded and front manned by guitarist/vocalist John McCrea, CAKE has had strong connections to the Atlanta area since their formation in 1991. McCrea admitted to the crowd that the fans from the area had a large impact on the early success of the band, as many of CAKE’s early shows were performed in clubs across the city. Obviously Atlanta still loves CAKE, and all three shows sold out quickly.
The band has gone through many lineup changes over their near twenty-year existence, but has always prominently featured non-traditional elements. McCrea combines a mixture of spoken and sung lyrical styles to produce an extremely unique, ska and indie-like tonality. Many of CAKE’s hits including trumpet riffs by the only other original member, Vince DiFiore. The band’s musical distinctiveness carries over onto the stage, as well.
Half-way through the concert, McCrea reminded the crowd that the performance would include a twenty-minute intermission to allow fans “to discuss with the neighbors the songs they liked so far” and also featured a lengthy trivia contest in which the winner received an apple tree that had been sitting, oddly, on stage the entire night.
After the intermission, CAKE performed “Federal Funding,” “Bound Away” and “Sick of You,” three songs off their new album. Released on Jan. 11, the album was CAKE’s first release under its own label and immediately raced to the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 in its first week.
Filled with many instances of crowd participation, energy levels remained high throughout the night. A riotous call for an encore lasting several minutes returned the band to the stage to conclude with two of CAKE’s most prolific singles, “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” and “The Distance.”
As the diversely aged crowd slowly emptied the packed Center Stage, the venue buzzed with excitement and discussion on the band’s seemingly flawless performance. CAKE’s reputation as one of the greatest live band’s today was definitely upheld, and their extensive Atlanta fan base was not left disappointed.