Concert Reviews

Cake at Red Rocks, 7/28/12


See Also: - Slide show: Cake at Red Rocks, 7/28/12 - The Lumineers shed light on life in Denver and their evolving sound

The capacity crowd at Red Rocks on Saturday seemed determined to defy the elements. Overcast skies, steady sheets of rain and regular gusts of wind did their best to derail the outdoor performances from the Lumineers and headliners Cake, but the rotten conditions couldn't dampen the overwhelming mood of celebration. Even as the rain fell early in the evening and the wind continued well into Cake's encore, the collective enthusiasm and zeal from the crowd was impossible to miss. It was all the more remarkable considering the fact that performances from both bands boasted a meditative and measured feel.

The weather wasn't the only chaotic part of the evening. As the Lumineers took to a bare stage and kicked off their fifty-minute set, the crowd was still streaming up the stairs. The parking lots had filled early, and concertgoers were still trekking hills around the park as the worst of the rain set in.

That didn't dim the Lumineers' energy or attitude. From the stairs on the north side of the amphitheater, the steady pulse of drummer Jeremiah Fraites was unmistakable, as was the guitar work of Wesley Schultz and the cello lines of Neyla Pekarek. The rain was in full force a few minutes into the band's set, and the sheets were clearly visible from the back rows of the amphitheater.

The band's energy kept the milling audience interested. By the time the band offered bright versions of tunes like "Big Parade" and "Stubborn Love," most of the crowd had settled, and the true scope of the sold-out crowd became clear. The group dedicated the rendition of "Stubborn Love" to the victims of the shootings in Aurora last week before wrapping up their set with a rendition of "Flapper Girl" and a cover of the Talking Heads' tune, "This Must Be the Place."

The elements had already been unkind by the time the lights dimmed at about 9 p.m. and Cake took the stage. Even after the worst of the downpour passed, most of the sold-out crowd had taken shelter under tarps, plastic sheets and garbage bags bearing Red Rocks' logo. Even so, the mood was more frenzied than vexed when a synth-heavy orchestral track sounded as the band's introduction. The odd musical intro continued for several minutes before the quintet took the stage, and the audience immediately broke out into cheers and screams. No one had taken the rain as a cue to exit.

The intro music -- a cheesy score that sounded like it had been pulled straight from a Rocky sequel -- was the most grandiose part of the stage setting. Cake entered on to a stage that was starkly set; the only ornamentation was a disco ball that swayed in the persistent wind.

The setlist felt equally understated and subtle, from the first strains of a cover version of Willie Nelson's "Sad Songs and Waltzes" to the steady 3/4 cadence of "Opera Singer." John McCrea sang in succinct and deadpan tones, trumpeter Vince DiFiore delivered mid-register frenetic solos, and Paulo Baldi offered drum lines that were free of explosive solos or percussive fireworks.

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A.H. Goldstein

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