The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Cake at the Uptown

I had seen the band Cake in concert three times already when I heard that they were once again coming to Kansas City. I’m an avid concert-goer; it’s something I picked up from my parents. My father has been to so many concerts that he gave up counting somewhere after 500.

Needless to say, I slightly hesitated before buying a ticket to the most recent Cake show. How many times can you see a band and still be impressed? With other bands, that might be a valid point. But bands like Cake are timeless; they are bound to put on an entertaining performance.

I had never seen Cake in an indoor venue. They always played at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater (when it was still Sandstone) or the City Market. This change in venue, to the Uptown, was bound to have some effect.

The Uptown is my favorite venue in Kansas City. The theater is gorgeous, and the sound is never too heavy on the bass. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there, including The Strokes, Wilco and Elvis Costello. It isn’t the bands, necessarily, that make the shows so great; it is the location.

The “Mediterranean courtyard” interior of the Uptown, as described by its designer John Ebersen, is unlike any other in Kansas City. It is warm and relaxed, and gives an intimate feel between performer and audience.

The Uptown is perfect for Cake. The ironic, goofy band had a simplistic set. They relied heavily on a huge disco ball that came down halfway into every song. A small tree sat next to lead singer John McCrea, and at first I figured it was fake.

There was no opening act: The band members simply came on stage and announced, “We are the opening act. We’re going to play two sets for you tonight, with an intermission in between.” With that they began blasting the song “Opera Singer,” and the show took off.

One thing I learned from my past experiences with Cake is that they know how to draw in the crowd. First off, the show was sold out. The place was packed from wall to wall. I could tell most of the people there were like me: They had seen Cake before.

As the music started, it was hard to separate McCrea’s voice from the audience’s. Everyone was singing — and I mean everyone. The balcony was even in on the chorus. McCrea pointed it out, saying something along the lines of, “Usually those balcony people are too cool.They sit up there like gods on a throne, looking down on the rest of us. But man, you guys are really into it up there.”

With that, the whole balcony erupted into applause.

The intimacy of Cake’s shows is what brings me back every time. That little tree I mentioned earlier served as more than just as a stage prop. After the intermission, McCrea came onstage and started talking. He informed the crowd of a project the band was doing. Every city they play in gets a tree, and a lucky person gets to take that tree home and plant it. There was one rule to the giveaway: Whoever received it had to promise to plant the tree within a month and send pictures to the band’s website. Then, every year after that, the person had to take another picture with the tree, “so that we can see how you get old and fat, and how the tree gets big and strong,” McCrea explained.

To select the winner, McCrea had the whole audience get completely silent, and then asked, by raise of hand, for us to tell him what kind of tree it was. After several minutes of guessing, some pink-haired concert-goer got it right. The next day I went home to look at Cake’s website. Sure enough, there’s a gallery of pictures with Cake fans from all over the globe standing next to their trees.

Cake connects with their fans on so many levels, and it was evident at the show. I have never been involved with such a communal audience. Perhaps it was the venue, but everyone there was connected to the band. Cake has proven to me that I can see a band 100 times and always walk out with something new to say.

4 out of 5 stars

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Cake at the Uptown