Review: Cake New Years Eve

Words by Tim Cigelske

It’s easy to read metaphors into Cake’s New Year’s Eve Show at the Riverside. Most obvious was the huge banner behind the band that read, “A safer world, a more hopeful America.” This comes from a quote of a certain presidential candidate:

“We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America, and nothing will hold us back.”

Barack Obama? Nope. George W. Bush. “A safer world, a more hopeful America” was the title of the Republican National Convention platform. That’s where he spoke those words.

So was the banner hopeful or cynical? Or a little of both?

It’s always been nearly impossible to tell if Cake is spreading a message of defiant optimism or deadpan pessimissm. This makes them a perfect band for New Year’s, the most emotionally conflicted day of the year. Like the lyrics of their opening song from 2001, “Sheep Go To Heaven” (goats go to Hell):

“As soon as you’re born you start dying/ So might as well have a good time.”

Then after spotting someone with a plastic beer mug in the audience, frontman John McCrea commented: “Our time is fleeting. Let us celebrate with commemorative plastic cups.”

It wasn’t just the banner that suggested more of the same in 2009. Thankfully, that’s not always a bad thing. The show included familiar Milwaukee institutions the Brewhaus Polka Kings, German maidens, Dog trainer Amy Ammen and Able the dancing chihuahua, the Racing Sausages and Kramp and Adler from FM-102.1.

Not to mention the fact that Cake played this same venue on New Year’s Eve exactly two years ago.

“When did we become such an ungrateful country?” McCrea said then, explaining that we were part of the small percentage of the world that has running water. “When did we become such an ungrateful country?” he said again this year, using the same illustration.

The first song this audience heard in 2009 was “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.” We brought in the new year watching women in German maiden costumes dance by the stage while drunk dudes threw back PBR tallboys.

“I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity,” McCrea sang. “I want a girl with good dividends.” Like last time, he gleefully pitted the crowd against each other in an epic na-na-na competition.

“Louder! Angrier! More confused!” he exhorted, and the audience complied.

That definitely sounds like a metaphor. Hello, 2009.

Read: F-B Cake Interview

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One Response to “Review: Cake New Years Eve”

  1. semaj Says:

    great show ! i was there and it was good

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