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Cake frosts the kids

By Frank Sennett

NOVEMBER 9, 1998:  What to do if you're a band of fun-loving art-rockers who've been adopted by the Q101 crowd? If you're Cake, you can have your sold-out audience and beat it, too.

While the kids muscle through the main-floor doors at the Vic, the fogies trudge up to the balcony where seats are plentiful--but not before a stop at the empty bar. The man handing out drink wristbands laughs when I flash my driver's license. "Why are you showing me that?" he asks, slipping a plastic ring around my aged wrist.

Soon, singer John McCrea is integrating the inevitable slavish sing-alongs into the act. During "Satan Is My Motor," he implores the crowd to belt out the chorus—adding that such an action in no way endorses Satanism, but rather acknowledges "there is power in group singing."

In an ironic update on Neil Diamond's 1970s serenade to the "tree people" watching his "Hot August Night" show outside L.A.'s Greek Amphitheater, McCrea turns his attentions skyward, to where the twenty- and thirtysomethings are quietly enjoying the show. "Do you think you're better than the people down here?" he deadpans, before commanding the kids to pipe down so everyone can hear the balcony crowd sing.

We comply, but only for a few embarrassed moments. Our feeling of superiority returns at the end of the show, when we pass the kids pressing against the souvenir stand and wonder, How can you afford your rock 'n' roll T-shirt?

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