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Cake at Shoreline Amphitheatre

In Music
THE DISTANCE: Though they don't go for speed, Cake have gone the distance.

THE DISTANCE: Though they don't go for speed, Cake have gone the distance.

A little bit of country, a little bit of rock & roll and a little bit of hip-hop swagger. For the second summer in a row, alt-rock hit-machine Cake joins forces with singer, songwriter and piano-pop powerhouse Ben Folds—hitting the road with guitars, trumpets and vibraslap in tow.

Cake was founded three decades ago in Sacramento and ascended the alternative rock charts with a bright and bubbly antidote to grunge’s dour and sour sounds. For every sludgy riff, Cake had a crisp and spritely rebuttal; to each downer lyric, Cake responded with wit.

“I want a girl with a short skirt and a looooooooooooonnng… jacket!” frontman John McCrea exclaimed, stretching his signature monotone for emphasis on “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” from the band’s 2001 Columbia Records debut, Comfort Eagle.

Ever since its first record, 1994’s Motorcade of Generosity, Cake has delivered consistently catchy melodies, driving basslines and poetic metaphors that are as clear as they are zany.

Perhaps it is something about California’s Central Valley. In the same way that the Modesto-bred Grandaddy so expertly channeled the existential dread of internet-connected suburban sprawl with songs about robots working in the dark, Cake zeroed in on toxic masculinity through the prism of high-powered automobiles. “Race Car Ya-Yas” is a brilliant take-down of machismo, road rage and commuter culture, while “Going the Distance” is the tale of a man racing against himself in an empty arena as his lover languishes in the cold shadow of his ambition.

Though the band hasn’t released a full-length album since 2011’s Showroom of Compassion, there were hints of new music with the release of “Sinking Ship” last August, the lead single from their yet-to-be-released seventh studio album.

This summer’s tour also comes on the heels of Folds’ first major book release, a memoir titled A Dream About Lightning Bugs.

A North Carolina native, Folds first achieved national success as the frontman of Ben Folds Five. The band’s 1997 single “Brick,” from the album Whatever and Ever Amen, lit up alternative rock and pop radio all over the country with bouncy keys. As a solo artist, Folds has performed with William Shatner, Regina Spektor and even authors like Neil Gaiman. His impressive resume doesn’t stop there: Folds was a main contributor to the soundtracks of two of the mid-2000s most quirkiest films—Hoodwinked! and Over the Hedge—and even served as a judge on NBC’s a cappella competition show, The Sing Off.

Cake & Ben Folds
Sep 13, 7pm, $35+
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

 

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