Review of Aug. 27 Cake show at Fox Theater Pomona

It was a lot of Cake at Pomona Fox Theater Thursday night. The near-20-year-old band played two 45-minute sets with an intermission and a 10 minute encore – they made us wait for that one.

Someone I know described the band as “talky” – and they were. Singer John McCrea took the liberty of lecturing the audience about being hypocrites – they should, he said, abstain from alcohol and take legal drugs. He also stated he’s against marijuana (there was definitely some of that Thursday night). That kind of killed the mood for some listeners.

On the bright side, he gave out a free shirt to a girl who knew the annual number of deaths due to a lack of basic health insurance. It’s 18,000, for the record.

But it seemed the crowd loved it all – even the six audience members who did pushups to win a lemon tree. What was difficult to tell was whether McCrea loved the audience – he seemed to be trying awfully hard to get people to sing. Starting with the crowd-pleaser “Sheep go to Heaven,” McCrea was like a conductor, cuing excellent trumpet player Vince DiFiore and keeping tempo with his free hands. But to be a Cake fan, however, you have to work as hard as the band.

“Are you trying hard enough?” McCrea asked the audience in the encore performance of “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.” And the balcony – the poor balcony which received boos from the audience because they weren’t singing the chorus loud enough.

Of course, they ended with “The Distance.” Smart, because a good number of people were just waiting for it.

Highlights: A new song from an album they’re going to release “whenever we feel like it,” the lemon tree contest (I think the winner did 50 pushups)
I wish they had played: Guitar Man, Let Me Go