Last night I went to a show at The Mann Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA, with Becky and Joel. The artist was Cake. The opener was Cake. It was an evening with Cake. They played the songs I expected (and love), The Distance, Never There, Short Skirt Long Jacket, Rock and Roll Lifestyle.
They had a super simple stage set-up. No big speaker stacks, no frilly sets. Just two small combo amps for the guitarist, a micro amp for the lead singer’s acoustic guitar, a four piece drum set, an 8×10 bass cabinet with head stack on top and a keyboard. The keyboardist also had an extra mic for trumpet and tambourine. A huge stage with not a lot on it. It was awesome. They didn’t have techs coming out on stage to change instruments. In fact, everyone played the same instruments for the entire show. The guitarist didn’t use any pedals. The bassist didn’t have any effects. The drummer’s set did not rotate on hydraulics.
It was simple, it was awesome.
The singer’s stage persona was awesome. He was funny and casually made some political and environmental points but in a very cool way. Despite the venue being huge, it felt smaller. It felt almost club-like (except that I couldn’t make out the faces of anyone on stage from Orchestra B, Row M, Seat 86.
There is so much peripheral crap in performance sometimes. I’m a sucker for the extra floor tom thing, but it is really generally just a distraction from the music. The emotion of the song is heightened by something visual rather than just letting the song speak to your heart. They trick your heart by engaging your eyes. Don’t get me wrong, visual stuff is really awesome, but sometimes it is really nice to return to basics.
Plus, white people are ridiculous. Myself included. Cake is at times a funk band, at times a rock band, at times an alt-country band, but all the time a danceable band. Where did I spend the show? Well, other than the encore, I spent it on my butt. I was a little better than the couple in front of me. I was really grooving in my seat, but I was too embarrassed to stand up. How dumb is that? White people need to learn to get loose and just dance.