It’s been about 10 years since I have seen Cake live. The first and only other time I have caught them live was in the Spring of 2002 at The Brooklyn Bandshell, where it rained continuously throughout their entire show. I found it apropos that’s how the show at Stubb’s on Dec. 4th started, with the lovely rainy and cold weather that Austin experienced this past weekend.


With no opener and a line wrapping around the block down 9th street, I stood in the sold out show line in the cold and slight rain to get in. Once inside, Stubb’s had prepared for a downpour as there were multiple tents set up everywhere as well as hot chocolate and hot toddy’s for sale to keep the crowd warm. I found a good spot and let all the tall people surrounding me keep me warm.

With a career of touring and recording spanning more than 20 years, Cake does not disappoint. Known for their sarcastic lyrics, lead singer John McCrea’s deadpan voice, trumpet parts and frequent use of a vibraslap, the 2 and a half hour show was nothing but a good time.

The lights dimmed and the show was starting, or so we all thought. What actually occurred was a bunch of colorful lights going all over the place and what I can only describe as a 5 minute Overture like you would hear from the orchestra before an old musical that has nothing to do with the rest of the show. I actually turned to my boyfriend and asked him if we were at a Lazer Floyd show when the band decided to come on stage. Odd, but whatever. Then the show really began. The background was light blue with white lights rotating behind them making them look like they were in a snow globe. We were told specifically that there was no photography to be taken, so naturally I got a blurry one that I sneakily took on my iPhone.

Slated to play two sets with an intermission, they opened the first set with “Sad Songs and Waltzes” followed by  hits like “Opera Singer” and “Shadow Stabbing.” Most of the first set was newer songs from their most recent album Showroom of Compassion, like their single “Sick Of You,” where they split the audience in half to sing along in a competition of which side was louder, and “Long Time.” After about an hour of playing, the band took a break and the crowd just hung out for about 20 minutes.

After intermission, the band came back with favorites like “Frank Sinatra” and “Satan Is My Motor.” Halfway through the second set, the band decided that they were going to give an audience member the tree that was part of the stage decoration if they could guess what kind of tree it was. Apparently we don’t know how to identify trees too well here in Austin or at least the crowd wasn’t faring too well. After what seemed to be about 5 minutes of asking different audience members and getting the wrong answers, a guy named Scott correctly identified it as an apple tree because his parents have one in their backyard. Scott then agreed that he had a place to plant it and would take a picture of himself with it in its new home and send it to the band to go on their website.  Apparently they do this in every city they tour in. Who knew Cake was so forest friendly?

After all the tree hoopla, they came back with a bang playing all my favorites like “Love You Madly”, “Never There” and “Sheep Go To Heaven,” getting the audience to sing the line “Goats Go To Hell” very loudly.  Hearing that they play this song live sometimes, I was not disappointed when they tore into a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” followed by “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.”  With an energetic crowd and good tunes, the two and a half hours flew by with the band ending the evening with their biggest hit and my personal favorite, “The Distance.”

I left the show with cold feet, a new t-shirt and songs in my head for the rest of the night.

The after show inside was also a stellar lineup with Speak, Ume and Soldier Thread, but that’s another blog entry.

– Submitted by Mandi LeBlanc, Music Design