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Layered Cake

Metro Santa Cruz has the proud distinction of printing the first piece of disinformation about the birth of CAKE's keyboardist and trumpeter's first-born, LUCA DIFIORE. She is actually a he, and we are all sorry. With any luck Luca will grow up to be as talented and cool as his father, VINCE, who after thoroughly rocking the CATALYST informed me in the nicest possible way that I assigned the wrong gender to his son in last week's paper. Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano.

Many things set Cake's Oct. 14 performance apart from the standard rock & roll experience. First of all, they played a genuine, for real and probably not even planned encore. Sure, they left the stage once, then came back and played THE DISTANCE, but then they left the stage again. The lights went on and most of the crowd started filing out of the club, but a few hundred belligerent fans stayed, demanding more broken Goya and waltz time from Sacramento's finest band. After several minutes the band obliged and came out to do two more numbers. Hearing CAKE play a country song to end the evening was a much more fitting goodbye to a loyal crowd than lobbing out the big hit.

While Cake is very aware that it is presenting a rock show, with all the backdrops, singalongs and proper posture that that entails, the entire experience was presented completely tongue in cheek. A Cake concert is one step removed from a rock show, because unlike BILLY IDOL, the guys in Cake are smart enough not to take being up onstage playing rock music too seriously. Being in on the conceit allowed Cake to stretch out enough to really rock the room; they didn't have to break character or fall back on flashy presentation to sell their songs to the audience. Whether it was NO PHONE, MEXICO or ITALIAN LEATHER SOFA, the crowd ate it up, singing in unison about the plights and perils of apathetic alienation.

Cake stands for a kind of music that doesn't fit into easy little radio packets and big radio station summer showcase concerns. Somehow they have managed to transcend all the alternative rock bullshit that we were all forced through in the '90s to keep making unadulterated and unique music. It's a brave thing to make rock songs without scads of effects, fancy gear and slick marketing, but Cake does it, presenting fun and honest material that relies more on talent and craft than ProTools and Photoshop. If Friday's sold-out (and loud) crowd is anything to judge by, there is a sizable population out there that, just like Cake, doesn't "wanna go to Sunset Strip" and doesn't "wanna feel the emptiness" of "gold marquees and stupid band names." JOHNNY CASH would be proud of Cake: They've given the finger to alt rock and spent their career making real music instead.

Libre Service

Now it's time to share with the group. My name is Peter and I can't dance. I had this horrible growth spurt in eighth grade and went from 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-3 in like eight minutes. Since then it's been a constant struggle to stay upright. Whether going over the handlebars of my bike, sliding off the trail into the poison oak patch or going face-first down stairs, I am accident prone. I am not agile. I am not a gazelle. I am also white. Bone white. Like belly of an orca white, so the boogie has never been my strong suit. The closest analogy to me grooving is like ... a carrot on strings.

So I was surprised how much I managed to sway about at PLENA LIBRE'S show on Oct. 12. Fronted by four singers and packing enough conga and timbales to use up all the available floor space on the stage at KUUMBWA, this group played such infectious grooves that the dancers outnumbered the sitters four to one. I went with the dancers; you just can't fight the power of the plena.

Vivir Para Bailar

So on that latter note, dancers and klutzes alike are invited to the MELLO CENTER this coming Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23, to witness the birthday celebration of Watsonville's premier folkloric dance troupe, ESPERANZA DEL VALLE. The program features traditional dance and music of the Huasteca, Veracruz, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Jalisco accompanied by LOS XOCHISONEROS of Los Angeles and the MARIACHI CALIFORNIA OF JAVIER VARGAS. The show is $15 at the door and starts at 8pm on Saturday and 3pm on Sunday.

Peter Koht

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From the October 19-26, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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