January 9, 2009
Better Than: cake, the food.
Although birthday cake was available upstairs, it was clear that last night's sold-out crowd didn't come to the Fillmore for the dessert — they came for Cake. The show was birthday bash for Bill Graham, San Francisco's
legendary music promoter who would have been 79 this year had he not
passed away in 1991 after a tragic helicopter crash. Proceeds from the concert went to
the Bill Graham Foundation, which provides grants for music, the arts, and education.
But eager Cake fans (for whom the fundraiser aspect was just a nice side-perk) had to wait patiently for the lights to finally dim for the headliners around 10 p.m. Even after that, they had to sit through what felt like a half-hour of crescendo-heavy intro music accompanied by an odd slide show of cats, RVs, random buildings, cars, and other images of Americana at its not-so-finest projected behind the stage before lead-vocalist John McCrea finally stepped up to the mic wielding his Kleen Kanteen and vibraslap.
The wait, according to the screams of joy from the crowd when the band struck its first chord, was worthwhile. Cake played a wide repertoire of songs from its many albums throughout the set, and even
teased the crowd with a few tunes from its soon-to-be released album
(which McCrea promised would be coming out shortly). Nearly everyone in the front row was singing along with “Stickshifts and
Safetybelts,” “Mexico,” and “Comfort Eagle,” and a few kept right on
singing through the group's cover of Black Sabbath's “War Pigs.”