Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cake @ Terminal 5

With one foot out of a cab at 11th and 56th, the thought of braving Terminal 5 - something I swore I would never do again - was itself enough to make me reconsider. The carnival that could not be contained within had spilled on to the street in a wave, and as it touched my one outstretched foot, my first instinct was to dive back into the car. Cautiously, I moved to the door, where a very male crowd throbbed in a semi-circle around the ticket checkers. On the outskirts, a man with an ipod in his mouth and his eyes locked downward was kicking rocks around while a different man, obviously an employee of the venue was weaving around him sweeping up the adhesive backs to the sticky wristbands with a half broom and dustpan. His method was fascinating; he meticulously swept each individual "back" into the pan. One sweep, one less little white square on the pavement. He even grew annoyed at pairs stuck together, prying them apart with the satellite fronds of the broom, before pushing them in one at a time, satisfied. Of course there was no shortage of squares snowing down from the ID-checkers standing only a few feet away. When I asked the gent putting my wristband on about it, he exhaled and muttered only one word, "Sad."

I made it inside, had a couple of Stellas to calm myself, and then pushed into the man-tangle just before the band came on. The only trouble is that I was deceiving myself from the beginning. There was no way I was ever going to enjoy this show, no matter what the crowd was like or how much the beer would cost or how many insane people I was to encounter in the first 5 minutes. The reason is simple: To me, Cake is not really a band anymore. They are fantastic musicians. They played flawlessly. But they felt more like a cover band playing the Cake catalog. What is interesting to me here is that moment of transformation. Is it gradual? Is it a conscious monetary choice? Does a young band's songwriting impetus disappear as more and more people scream for established songs, or does playing what the people want leave no time for anything else? I guess as I get older I don't want to hear anything I already know, see anything I have committed to memory, etc. The band's choice to transition may be more about the audience than anything else: away from the fickle towards the loyal. I can understand that. We the fickle are starving for artists to keep pushing and feeding us new brilliant, intelligent fodder for our own experience. I guess that's a lot to ask.

1 comment:

Gena (Choosing Raw) said...

A balanced and reasonable meditation on Friday's fiasco, my dear. It seems that your tempers have calmed. But the bloom is off the rose, for us all.

Very nice to see you!