Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeRinging in 2007 with their first New Year's Eve performance in over a decade, Cake led the sold-out crowd in Milwaukee through a joyous "Auld Lang Syne" as hundreds of balloons dropped on the turn of the clock and topped off a gala of music, stunt juggling, free hors d ouvres and toasts with $3 beers.
Earlier in the night, Milwaukee's own, indie rockers Maritime took the stage with the party amassing and, with songs like "Calm" and "Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts" from their latest release We, the Vehicles, did well to get the crowd warmed up.
In a stunning visual spectacle, "The Extreme Juggler" Marcus Monroe took the stage next in a performance that ended with the juggler riding a twelve-foot unicycle with a firework shooting from his helmet while he juggled "knorches" (knives with flaming torch attached).
With the crowd primed, Cake thumbed through their five-album-deep catalogue and delivered energetic performances of "Love You Madly," "Sheep Go To Heaven," and "Italian Leather Sofa" to open their set to an appreciative crowd. As frontman John McCrea delivered his catchy brand of oft witty and tongue-in-cheek lyrics over acoustic guitar, trumpeter Vince DiFiore and guitarist Xan McCurdy tastefully added layers full of texture over the warm base of drummer Paulo Baldi and bassist Gabe Nelson-- most notably in the playful "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and the haunting instrumental "Arco Arena."
Taking a brief moment after midnight to sip some champagne, Cake then offered up "Rock N' Roll Lifestyle," perhaps as a suggestion for a New Year's resolution, before ending the set with the crowd chanting rowdily to the ever-popular refrain of "The Distance."
After briefly commenting on the Iraqi response of "dancing and gunfire" to Saddam Hussein's hanging only one day prior, cynically telling the crowd that nothing needs to change in '07 since "everything is perfect just as it is," McCrea later said he was most saddened by the "almost complete dis, in the popular culture, of the 3/4 time signature." Giving good reason to write in that odd timing and, as always, going against the popular grain, Cake ended the night with the 3/4 strut of "Mexico" serenading the crowd out the doors and into a new year.
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