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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 2, 2010

Honolulu getting its first taste of Cake

By Treena Shapiro
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lead singer John McCrea, center, on Cake’s music: “You either like it or you don’t.” Its songs have been in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “The Sopranos” and other shows and films.

Photos courtesy of Cake

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7 p.m. today and tomorrow

Pipeline Café

$35, $65




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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Cake’s been around since 1991 and counts among its fans a range of ages, from youths to grandparents.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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You may have heard some of Cake's songs on the radio. You might have heard some of their music in movies like "I Love You, Man" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," as well as TV shows like "ER" and "The Sopranos." The theme song for "Chuck" includes part of one of Cake's best known songs, "Short Skirt, Long Jacket."

However, to get a better feel for what Cake has to offer, John McCrea, singer, songwriter and guitarist for the band, suggests listening to one of the bands' albums — any album — before heading to see the Sacramento band's first Honolulu performances tonight or tomorrow at Pipeline Cafe.

Although the band has been touring for almost two decades, this is the members' first opportunity to play in Honolulu, though McCrea said they would have come sooner if they'd had a chance. "It usually has very little to do with the wishes of the band," he said. "It mostly has to do with the choices of the local promoter."

Since bands can't jump on the tour bus to cross the Pacific Ocean, "It all boils down to economics and fuel consumption," McCrea said.

Cake's sound doesn't fit neatly into any category, but McCrea gave it a shot: "It has its roots in traditional American music ... There's certainly a song structure, sort of archetypical blues/jazz/country ... as well as some older styles, big band things, which is actually a Tin Pan Alley thing, which actually comes from Eastern Europe."

McCrea put it succinctly: "You either like it or you don't."

It might be a good idea to make sure you like all of what Cake has to offer. McCrea suspects that people who know Cake's radio singles might find the concert isn't what they expected. "I think if you listen to an album and you don't hate it, you'll probably enjoy the concert. If you've just heard the one song on the radio and you like it, then you should go see another band."

One of the problems with radio singles is that one song is played ad nauseum , but that doesn't always give a good sense of the band's music. In fact, McCrea said he's heard from some people that they aren't as thrilled about the singles as they are with the other tracks that don't get the same kind of exposure.

Cake's discography contains some 75 tracks across six albums and the majority don't get the same kind of exposure as their "hit" songs. "There's 13 other songs for each album," he noted. "Listen to an album. Just pick one and listen from the beginning to end and that's what it might be like (to see the band live)."

And Cake is first and foremost a live band. "We know our job is to sing and dance for people and we sing and dance for each other."

"We make recordings, but we've been a live band for much longer. "If you like live music, you might enjoy our music and might enjoy the experience of our live music. I've had lots of people come up to me who don't generally like going to live concerts and going through the whole schlep, but they continue to enjoy going to our concerts," he added.

Since Cake has never played here, McCrea said the band will play many older songs and maybe a couple from the new album, rather than concentrating entirely on their newer songs.

However, Cake doesn't use a set list, so it's possible they'll forget to play some of their better-known songs during their 90-minute set, he warned.

The band has been around since 1991, so it has a pretty diverse fan base. "There's a broad mix of people age-wise. We see very young people, we've seen grandparents — they're usually not in the front row — and people sometimes bring their 4-year-olds," McCrea said. "In a way, that's sort of a real honor, to be somehow appealing to 4-year-olds."


John McCrea, singer and guitarist for Cake

"Mama Don't Allow It" by Julia Lee

"Pure Jam" by Yellow Magic Orchestra

"Trust In Me (The Python's Song)" from "The Jungle Book" soundtrack

"I Gotta Be Me" by Sammy Davis Jr.

"You're Running Wild" by the Louvin Brothers


"Rock 'N' Role Lifestyle" ("Motorcade of Generosity")

"Frank Sinatra" ("Fashion Nugget")

"The Distance" ("Fashion Nugget")

"I Will Survive" cover ("Fashion Nugget")

"Never There" ("Prolonging the Magic")

"Satan is My Motor" ("Prolonging the Magic")

"Short Skirt, Long Jacket" ("Comfort Eagle")

"Comfort Eagle" ("Comfort Eagle")

"Love You Madly" ("Comfort Eagle")

"No Phone" ("Pressure Chief")