Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band: Hope Over Fear

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band, First Avenue, 10/29/2008

Given his prolific career over a short lifespan, I should really do a full write-up of Conor Oberst and his new outfit, the Mystic Valley Band. But with Election Day and the Clapperclaw Festival coming up fast, I can't fit much more in my head, so here are just a few brief thoughts on the show:

1)Thank you Billings. Billings, Montana was one of three "hometowns" Oberst called out for the Mystic Valley Band, the other two being Tepoztlan, Mexico, where the disc was cut and good ol' Minneapolis, where he test ran material in a two-day stand at the 400 Bar late last year. But it was in Billings that guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth played with the band for the first time, the extra spark of country lightening to galvanize the band. Hollingsworth had some of the sweetest moments of the night, from the dead sexy barroom lead on "Corina Corina" to the sparse slide to close on "Breezy". Neither would have been out of place on Blonde on Blonde or Modern Times, and was a great example of how talent magnifies talent.

2)The band's the thing, but it rises and falls with the bandleader. After ceding lead to the band as a whole on an enegetic but average "Get Well Cards", Oberst took it all back home for "Cape Canaveral". In blue light and with hushed, forward intensity, he showed why his reputation as a songwriter is so well deserved and why he can draw crowds, and collaborators. The best Conor can be sung holding on to someone else, or trying to hold on to yourself.

3)"Victory's sweet/Even deep in the cheap seats." Living and working for something grander or more expansive than the introspection/narcissm for which he has been previously derided by some has done Oberst good. I won't deny that I was hoping for some of those older songs, knowing that the MVB has been doing "Lua" and "Bowl of Oranges" on the road. But whether it is the band, or getting into politics backing the Obama campaign, Oberst seemed happier, more upbeat than previous incarnations, a pleasure to watch riff around, grownup, earnest and hopeful. And with the stadiums Obama's been packing, there is plenty of good company up there in the nosebleeds.

Get Well Cards
Cape Canaveral
I Got a Reason #1
Corina Corina
I Got a Reason #2
Souled Out
Milk Thistle


Snake Hill
Kodachrome (Paul Simon Cover)

Classic Conor: "When The President Talks to God". The opening to this video calls it a "music video, only shitty". Like the last 8 years: a President, only shitty. Here comes change.

One Day More!

Oh. My. Lord. Or should I say, Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Love Obama. Hate musicals. Love lip-synching. Les Misbarack wins!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Minneapolis Artists for Obama

My boyfriend, c.a.s., introduced me to the Scanner blog a while ago and I read it every day. About a week ago the females at Scanner decided to remake a great Joan Baez poster created during the last draft. I really liked it, and posted the remake as my Facebook photo - tagging three of my girlfriends as the other three women. Little did I know that it would be picked up by a local online media source and posted... tagging myself and my three friends (the Gossip Girls) as the pretty faces. Oops.

As a result of the oops, and just really enjoying what the photo stood for, my friends and I decided to do it up Minneapolis style. What you see above is the Minneapolis version of the original Baez photo, skewed to reflect our position on the upcoming election. Pictured are Andrea Swensson, Alexa Jones, and Stacy Schwartz. Please feel free to repost and spread the word - but most importantly, don't forget to vote on Tuesday, November 4th.

Click here for the original Scanner post and Baez/Scanner photos.

RockNRollCupcake: 10/28/08

Stanley Jordan Trio, the Dakota, 10/28/2008

This is actually a jazz cupcake, to my delight. I have written before that I don't know understand jazz- but I do understand exuberance, and am impressed (maybe too easily sometimes) by musical precision and virtuosic play. So when Stanley Jordan riffs jazz guitar Mozart, with joyful head bobs and arm flails for emphasis, you will forgive, and understand, the smile across my face.

I was lucky enough to be at the Dakota with an old friend, to whom credit must go for introducing me to jazz back in high school with the works of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and Miles' Bitches Brew. We came in with enough time to catch Jordan in his opening solo numbers, sparse high notes scaling up and down, action close to the fretboard, hands almost touching and exerting the minimum visible effort but providing an explosive flow of crisp notes that carried over the rapt silence of the crowd. Not only was he a thrill to listen to, but also to watch; bass notes for added emphasis were played with his chin!

This was full contact, swaying jazz, only intensified with accompaniment from his excellent backing bass and drums. With the band, he moved through asymmetrical covers of Jobim, "Autumn Leaves", and a mean, pulsing jam that opened with bassist Charnett Moffett tackling "Amazing Grace" in a minor key. After the jam and some more solo numbers, Jordan took the mic to talk about his other projects, including a CD of music he had recorded with a music therapist to get him through three days of dental work, Relaxing Music for Difficult Situations, I. Jordan was soft-spoken but effusive; full of talk about the interconnected nature of humanity and the logical progression of "correct action" from the realization that there is only one Earth, not surprising talk from a man who resides in Sedona, Arizona. The trio closed with an original number from the new disc State of Nature entitled "A Place In Space", upbeat, sprawling, full of chaos and hope. Who needs understanding when you've got joy?

*A note on the Dakota: Go there. Get an appetizer or two, catch Nachito Herrera, talk to the awesome staff. Try and convince them to book DeVotchKa, or Beirut, because that would be an amazing show, without compromising the musical ethos of the place. Support homegrown music in all it's forms, even if you have to dress up a little to get it.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Idolator just posted this, and it's awesome enough that I have to as well.

Awesome election version of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." These kids rock.

Of Montreal Shakes Up First Avenue

Of Montreal is well known for their outlandish stage shows, and their latest at First Avenue definitely fit that description. First Ave's stage was extended about 10 feet into the pit and the barrier was an additional 3 - 4 feet back from that, taking up half the available floor space for the crowd. It makes sense that First Ave pulled the tickets from their outlets early as a result.

Kids in wings, kids in makeup, kids with multicolored hair - they were all there. All bouncing, screaming, and reaching for the man. The one and only Kevin Barnes. The lead singer and face of the band, he's been getting a lot of love and attention lately. Both Rolling Stone and Paste Magazine had big feature stories this month and Of Montreal just released their new album Skeletal Lamping. In other words, the band's been busy.

The show began with gold Buddhas, but included skeletons, people dressed as animals, mythical beasts, warpaint, shaving cream, and a whole lot of feathers. Over the top? Maybe, but if any of these things would've been missing, it wouldn't have been an Of Montreal show. It was an amazing dance fest that included songs from various albums and had the crowd screaming along to every word. The band ended on a high note too; Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It was incredibly fun, and all you have to do is check out the slide show below to get a taste of the insanity. Set list after the jump:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Click here for Set List

Set List:
Id Engager
So Begins Our Alabee
Triphallus, to Punctuate!
She's a Rejecter
For Our Elegant Caste
Touched Something's Hollow
An Eluardian Instance
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
Gallery Piece
Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games
Women's Studies Victims
St. Exquisite's Confessions
Eros' Entropic Tundra (Sad Love)
Nonpareil of Wisdom
October is Eternal
Wicked Wisdom
Disconnect the Dots
Knight Rider
And I've Seen a Bloody Shadow
Plastis Wafer
Beware Our Nubile Miscreants

(Anyone keep track of the first two encore songs?)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coming Soon to the Fetus...

Oct. 28 - Listening party for The Cure's new album 4:13 Dream
Free pizza! 7pm

Nov. 8 - Eagles of Death Metal in-store, Time 3pm

Nov. 11
- Tom Morello in-store, 6pm

RockNRollCupcake: 10/23/2008

*Some nights you just want a quick snack- it's easier, with less prep and clean-up involved. It really hits the spot right around midnight. In that vein, we present RockNRollCupcake, a tasty text morsel with a dollop of photo frosting. Perfect for late nights, or early mornings, and general noshings.

The Rumble Strips with Birdmonster and Marvelle, 7th St Entry, 10/23/2008

With a name like Marvelle, you've gotta be thinking the Shirelles, or Patti LaBelle, or at least "I-put-a spell" vinyl Camaro cock-rock. But nope. The local outfit is a drums-bass-electric-violin combo trafficking in a heavy metal inflected with King Crimson and Eastern European folk dance (courtesy of John Holm's violin). Accompanied by a live painter who is listed as a band member on their Myspace, and with songs that sounded as though the bassist may have been reading aloud from The Lord Of The Rings, much of the early part of the set seemed to call for being epicly stoned, circa 1976. Their last two songs tightened up and showed a promise of clarity with the violin scaling several octaves and a classic drum-lead rat-a-tat repartee to go out on a bang.


I was blank on Birdmonster before the show, but they left the stage having won another fan. Granted, I may be soft for uncomplicated but layered guitar rock, but the boys from San Francisco were all smiles from stage and upbeat, cathartic. They delivered with lots of peppy dancing, and there were shifts enough to show of some sweet rhythm guitar lines and folky vocal breaks in the vein of other indie outfits like Bishop Allen or the now-defunct Page France. Birdmonster is now touring behind their new release From The Mountain To The Sea, and it's a friendly, appealing disc. Let the kids have their stage, and moment in the light.

The Rumble Strips did not, as David Klein of Birdmonster informed us, come from New Jersey. They came from England and sounded, to quote an unnamed source, "like the Bosstones from Brighton." Not so flattering; the horns were there and some nice trills & frills, but it seemed like half a show, half-hearted, like frontman Charlie Waller's half-finished pompadour. I checked out after the first couple songs, because for the best of Merry Olde England, there was a Richard Hawley CD waiting for me at home.

Video: Birdmonster's "Iditarod" video!

Bonus: Richard Hawley's video for "Tonight the Streets are Ours". Election Day is around the corner!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Local Label Draw Fire Records Heads to CMJ

Cake In 15 took a few minutes for an e-interview with Holly Munoz, one of the head honchos of Minneapolis record label Draw Fire Records. Draw Fire has actually chartered a bus to take them to the CMJ (College Music Journal) festival in New York City, and we thought we'd ask them why before they headed out on their great adventure.

Cake In 15: What made you decide to start a record label?

Holly Munoz: I started Draw Fire as I were preparing to release Aviette's debut album, Until We Hear From Dave. What started as a "Why not?" has become a resounding, "Um, yeah, this was such a great idea."

Ci15: Who or what band was the first you signed?

HM: In chronological order, Aviette, Me and Kyle, The Glad Version, Stook!, Sam Keenan, Bill Mike Band, Adam Svec.

Ci15: How do you choose which bands to work with? How many are on your label now?

HM: A) We have to love the music and we would prefer to like the artists as people. Considering that the label is founded on cooperative principles, it is important that our artists share similar values. B) 7

Ci15: Where do you go to find new music or bands you may be interested in signing?

HM: Live shows. Suggestions from our bands. Demos.
(Ed. Note: Demos can be mailed to: Draw Fire Records, PO Box 65332, St. Paul, MN 55165)

Ci15: How do you balance running a label with your full time jobs and other responsibilities?

Coffee and brass balls.

Read more about Draw Fire after the jump

Ci15: In your opinion, how important is it to attend music festivals like CMJ or SXSW for smaller labels?

HM: Very important. Independent artists are faced with more challenges than ever before (i.e., high gas prices, file sharing, etc.). It's imperative that artists start working together to expand resources and come up with creative ways to promote and distribute their music.

Ci15: Why CMJ? (versus SXSW or another music festival) What do you hope to gain by participating?

HM: CMJ is the largest and industry event of its kind. It's a great opportunity for our label to build its brand and for our artists to expand their audience.

Cake in 15 wishes all the musicians and hard working friends at Draw Fire a safe trip. Updates on their journey can be found on the HowWasTheShow blog here.

Yael Naim: The Joy of Speaking in Tongues

After winning tickets to see Yael Naim at the Cedar Cultural Center, I confess not being wholly sold or thrilled. "Cute," I thought to myself, "another international artist getting sales boost from the Mac advertising juggernaut. File under CSS and the Ting Tings." I have to not be so snarky with myself (although sometimes it works- you just have to know when to admit you're wrong.)

Naim, who is French-Israeli and speaks with a laughing lilt, came onstage with her backing band (David Donatien on percussion and chief arrangement, Laurent David on bass, and Xavier Tribolet on keys) and announced that they had "done a long road from Paris, where we recorded this album in a very small apartment." The group then broke into pop-jazz numbers, led by Naim on guitar and accompanied by full synth (and somehow, very French) backing keys. The opening tracks contained a hint of Naim's vocal range, but as she went over to the the upright piano, the Cedar employee carrying up a mug confirmed that she might have been fighting against the odds. Once at the keyboard though, she announced that she was going play a cover song by an unnamed friend and then began to playfully tap out a melody, singing a husky bar-room chanson that grew in scope and abandon. The song became grander, Naim's pipes stretched and bent, hung with anticipation and then unlocking its warmth, like being let in on a pop culture joke. The song was "Toxic," the unnamed friend was Britney Spears.

Language as a means of communication after the jump!

Try not to get swept along with a woman self-deprecating enough to do a full throated cover of "Toxic," or who will mix up French and English in "Game Is Over," by declaring that she's "seen the lumiere" - or unafraid to call her younger self pretentious, as she did while introducing "New Soul," the track of Mac fame. When she sang "Paris," a whirl of a love song to the city in French and Hebrew, she laughed that you would hear some "ch-ch-ch" sounds. "Why Do We" asked the question of why do we fall in love, and why do we hurt each other so, complete with accordion reeling into conga breakdowns, Middle-Eastern inflected rhythm, and spacing that gave Donatien, David and Tribolet their chance to shine. Throughout the night she was effusive and ebullient, cajoling singing out of the crowd, who sang with trepidation but applauded with abandon.

Standing in the back of the Cedar watching Naim onstage, a litany of referents flowed from her music. The notepaper I was scribbling on became filled with other musicians and song snippets in my attempt to triangulate her. It is a testament to the Cedar that some of the best comparisons came from shows that I had seen there: Annie Clark of St. Vincent, and Keren Ann - another Parisienne songstress. Still, it was exhausting editing it all down, because the show was so singularly full of light, funny and hopeful, and then the thought struck. There are people who are just themselves because they are so unique they are unclassifiable, and there are those who are so expansive that they seem to come from all directions. These sets are by no means mutually exclusive - especially not when you are talking in three distinct languages but conversing in one universal idiom.

Far Far
Too Long
The Only One
Endless Song of Happiness
Find Us
Why Do We
Man Of
New Soul
Game Is Over

Also: Slideshow with more of Staciaann Photography's photos at!

Tangentially related: The Cedar hosts Jolie Holland this Saturday, which is spiffy. Even spiffier is opener Herman Dune, a laid back folkie whose funnyman music videos are directed by my friend of a long time past, Toben Seymour. Check out this little gem for "My Home is Nowhere Without You":

miniStories Reading at the Ritz

miniStories is a juried short story competition hosted by mnartists and coordinated by Electric Arc Radio's Geoff Herbach. Stories are selected, judged, and finalists get a reading that's open to the public before the final selections are published in access + ENGAGE.

Cake In 15 is proud to announce that contributor Dan O. is one of the selected finalists, and since he is out of town this coming Monday, Cake in 15 boyfriend c.a.s. is headed down to the Ritz to read his short story Al Gore's Island. You should come down too, and catch some of the funny, off-beat literature happening in your backyard. (And check out access + ENGAGE too - the format is terrible, but the content can be great.)

miniStories Reading

Ritz Theater
343 13th Ave NE
7pm, Monday 10/27/2008

(*The image above is the first Google Image search result for "Al Gore's Island". Go figure.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TV On The Radio: Uplifting Serious

Here's the thing about TV On The Radio- they are in equal measure serious, musical, complex, obscure and at their show you can chuck that all out the window and dance. That's actually not accurate: the layered harmonies, heavy percussion and tempo changes are the main reason you want to move so hard. It's not an ironic self-awareness like Beck or a conscious push towards dancing fun like the Go Team, TVOTR bless the show with a hypnotic sway- vocalist Tunde Adebimpe jitterbugging, hands fluttering, guest instrumentalist Stuart Bogie jumping up and down and the all-ages crowd at First Ave Tuesday night spinning all over like a weighted top. Adebimpe told the crowd after "Dirtywhirl," "Thanks for dancing- that's encouraging for the future of the world." The amount of sheer danceability almost problematizes how serious TVOTR as a band, and how far they push themselves and their audiences.

As Adebimpe whipped up a frenzy, guitarist/producers Kyp Malone and David Andrew Sitek held the heavy end down, pushing layered drones and sirens while Jaleel Bunton on drums and Gerard Smith on keys kept the foundations shifting forward. Material from the brand-spanking new Dear Science was played close enough to the record so as to ensure recognition, and the crowd perked up to the almost Prince-inflected (and subject of absurd but serious but mythic but kitch video) "Golden Age" and the upbeat but dark "Crying" that Adebimpe attacked like a modern "Subterranean Homesick Blues" - and Malone with his Ginsburgian beard fit right in.

Sounds, Setlists & Side Projects after the jump!

It was the re-imagining of tracks from 2006's smash Return to Cookie Mountain that was revelatory of the adventurous spirit. This was a disc that started off with the lyric "I was a lover before this war," a definitive statement grounded in the times but expansive. As Malone noted before "Blues From Down Here," "I wrote a song in the past about now." The re-orchestrations distilled the best parts of that heavily layered disc; Adebimpe's bass vox, Malone's high tenor, a riff and hook and then all else exploded with new possibility. "Wolf Like Me" became a a series of layered tonalities over which Adebimpe roared, "A Method" was totally stripped down to an organ melody and a clatter, with as many shakers, blocks, and tambourines the band could get their hands on. They even had openers The Dirtbombs come back out to give them a hand.

Detroit's The Dirtbombs were a revelation in their own right. A long standing band, laboring for years in rock and roll obscurity, you could trace lineage far-flung from garage punk to Bootsy Collins in their sound. They drove it hard, as a band from the Motor City should. Frontman Mick Collins and guitar/vox Ko Mellina had a great Frank Black/Kim Deal exchange going on, and Collins would on occasion break apart a song with noises from his guitar that would make it seem as though an electrical current was passing directly through him. That's no bad thing, and they were heartily endorsed several times by TVOTR from stage - "Now you know," Malone remarked. It's not in the darkness or dourness that something becomes serious or important, but in the care, the sharing, and the pleasure separating itself out from pain.

Young Liars
Wrong Way
Golden Age
Halfway Home
Wolf Like Me
Stork & Owl
Shout Me Out
Dancing Choose
Blues From Down Here

Family Tree
A Method
Let The Devil In

Check out: TVOTR as Photo of the Week at

Also: Kyp Malone announces new releases with side project Iran. [Via Pitchfork]

And: Kyp Malone engages in some songwriting/free associative beat poetry/dressing down of hecklers at Cake Shop in 2007.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Culture Bully Blogs for Charity

One of Cake In 15's favorite blogs,, is teaming up with for a three day fundraising campaign supporting music development and literacy within local Twin Cities schools. Beginning at 10:00am (Central) on Monday, October 20 Culture Bully will be posting exclusive content at least once an hour, every hour for 60 HOURS!

With the support of over 50 local and national musicians these posts will include exclusive commentaries by the likes of Josh Grier of Tapes 'n Tapes, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, YouTube legend Tay Zonday, Kid Dakota, Maria Isa, Kristoff Krane, M.anifest and many, many more! Additionally, Culture Bully will be debuting brand new music from 14 local acts including Jeremy Messersmith, Roma di Luna, Little Man, Nobot, Dan Israel, Heiruspecs and Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles.

The link to donate directly to is here. Also be sure to check out the awesome content being posted and get a few mp3s for your effort.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beastie Boys Pre-Sale!

The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium has announced that the Beastie Boys Swing State Voter Awareness Tour, with a knockout lineup featuring live performance sets by Beastie Boys, Ben Harper, Tenacious D, and others, will make a stop at The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul on Saturday, November 1 at 7 PM.

Pre-sale tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on Thursday, October 16 from 10 AM - 10 PM or when tickets are no longer available. Tickets are subject to applicable Ticketmaster fees. Ticket limit is 8.

Internet Presale password = VOTE

Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack

Justin Pierre of Minneapolis' Motion City Soundtrack performed a 45 minute acoustic set on the UofM campus to support Senatorial candidate Al Franken. St. Paul Representative John Lesch was on hand, as well as plenty of Franken supporters, all who encouraged the students in attendance to make sure they register to vote - as tomorrow is the deadline. Minnesota is, however, a same-day registration state, and one could just register at the polls. I can tell you from experience, however, that it's much quicker to just get it over with and do it before election day.

Lesch talked a bit with students about Obama and his views on Iraq. He stressed the need for Obama, if elected, to have support in Congress in order to accomplish stated goals, and "Franken is the man to help make that happen." He also talked about things like student loan rates, grant programs (things the cost of the war is taking away), and health insurance. When asked who actually had health insurance, only about half of those in attendance were able to raise their hands. Change is painfully needed.

Once Pierre came in front of the small crowd, he began his set with Attractive Today, a hit off the "Commit This to Memory" release.
Things moved along swiftly with plenty of joking and laid-back attitude. Pierre did stop and talk about seeing Franken on SNL growing up, but said that he's also read some of the candidate's books, and done some research on his own. The singer said it was Franken's intelligence in this forum that's really impressed him. Sick of career politicians, Pierre said that Franken doesn't seem like the kind of guy who will be "owned" by lobbyists or another Washington group. Instead, Franken wants to do something with our current political system to make a difference. After these quick statements, Pierre went back to doing what he does best, entertaining a crowd and playing some sweet tracks from MCS's discography.

Video, more photos, and the set list after the jump

Here's some slightly less than completely terrible video I took with my Blackberry phone of the event (set list below):

Fell In Love Without You

The Future Freaks Me Out

Set List:
Attractive Today
Fell In Love Without You
The Future Freaks Me Out
Better Open the Door
My Favorite Accident
Modern Chemistry
Broken Heart
Everything is Alright

Full photo set here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Poster Makes Me Laugh

...and the real guys

Cold War Kids: Heavier on Record

Cold War Kids aren't Sunny Cali-forn-i-yay. They come from Nixon's stomping grounds, where the California sun has a bitter and unrepentant glare and this honest, crushing constancy is embodied in the best Cold War Kids songs. The narratives wrap you in and push you through a sharp lens, like a John Cheever short story. Whether it's the opening crash of "We Used to Vacation" and the announcement from Nathan Willett that he's "just an honest man/provide for me and mine" to the wail that "Nobody gave us names/Like Mexican dogs" from "Mexican Dogs," you cannot fault CWK for their ambitious story telling.

Sometimes though, as at the Fine Line Music Cafe, crammed to uncomfortable capacity with brosephs and yuppies, earnest examination becomes performative and gimmicky. Playing with the lights off and shining Maglite flashlights into the crowd seemed less sinister and more like rowdy campers trying to tell ghost stories. The "whi-wh-whites of your eyes" from "Hang Me Up to Dry" ceased to have a frustrated anger and became rote. Yes, the crowd cheered and sang along to "Vacation," "Hospital Beds," and "Hang" - no doubt due in part to the generous radio play received by those songs. Yes, you can expect songs from the break-out album to be better recognized. But these songs also sounded better live than offerings from the newly released Loyalty to Loyalty. "Something Is Not Right With Me" came off as shrill and solipsistic, "Coffee Spoons" had me looking around for Nick Urata of DeVotchKa to do a better version, and "Mexican Dogs" sounded like a dime-a-dozen guitar quartet.

Cliffhanger Criticism Continues!

Which may be the crux of dissatisfaction with the new release - it seems to have jettisoned the jittery pool-hall piano blues in favor of layered guitars that simply are not as compelling. The keys gave CWK a channel to the hard-boiled American stories by the likes of Skip James and were a broken, angular, percussive composition that lent the boys from sunny Cali a gravitas. Opener AA Bondy (written about previously in Cake In 15 here) kept his songs grounded in that more conventional American bluesman trope, but leavened it with his ironic wit and simple backing built upon amped guitars and fuzz. Bondy's American Heart release isn't as ambitious as the Cold War Kids and so his straightforward performance came across more easily, with more focus.

Not that CWK put on a bad show by any measure - watching bassist Matt Maust wheel around and stroke out low dark tones was like watching an Egon Schiele drawing in motion, and guitarist Jonnie Russell with drummer Matt Aveiro ably held their own and drove the tempo. Still, the weight of these disappointments and the heft of the crowd pushed me out into the alleyway, where the night was mild and a little smoky, and snippets of people's lives came in from conversations and spilled drinks on all sides. And when Willett and Co. came back out for an encore of "St. John," it came out crackling, a little distant, then picked itself up off the bricks and danced hard.

Free downloads from Loyalty to Loyalty here, courtesy of RCRDLBL.

"St. John" from the Takeaway Shows by La Blogotheque:

Ticket Giveaway! INDIA: Public Places, Private Spaces Preview Party

Alright, we just posted about something you can give us, now we've got something the give to you. The Minneapolis Institute of Art will be opening their new show, INDIA: Public Places, Private Spaces, on Sunday, October 26th, but they are giving members a sneak peak and throwing a Preview Party on Saturday the 25th. CakeIn15 has ticket for you and a friend to go to the preview party; your chance to see the show first, nosh, mingle and enjoy live music and Indian dance.

Coming out of the world's largest democracy and heart of recent tech and industrial growth, the artwork promises to be "the real deal, deep and rich," writes The New York Times, and the show includes interactive tech and media elements, so don't expect it to be a run of the mill paintings-on-the-wall show.

Write to with "INDIA" as the subject line and the winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday the 21st- in time to get you your tickets!

INDIA: Public Places, Private Spaces Preview Party
Saturday, October 25, 2008
8 p.m. – Midnight
Target Gallery

Of course, you can also join the MIA before the preview party and they'll give you two free tickets to the Preview Party, as well as free tickets to the exhibit (normally $8).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fleet Foxes at the Cedar Cultural Center

Fleet Foxes are a band that come along so rarely. My father and I can listen to the album together without either one wincing. For him, it brings back memories of The Kingston Trio or The Lettermen with the harmonies pouring forth from mouths. For me, it's 360 degrees of amazing musicianship. A beautifully updated version of the past. It brings the word pastoral to mind not because of any subject matter the songs use, but more because I imagine myself in rolling hills shepherding sheep. Relaxing under the moon. Breathing life.

This band connects with many, as evidenced by the mixed crowd at the Cedar Cultural Center on a warm fall night. The two sold-out shows were hot, sweaty, and wonderful. Lead singer Robin Pecknold peppered the crowd with quips and queries. The audience members had no problem responding to some odd looks Pecknold would assume at various points throughout the evening. The entire band was not only musically stunning, but almost as equally entertaining. They interacted with each other well, playing off comments about the Rock the Vote bus parked outside (their "Straight Talk Express"). They wondered aloud why anyone would be happy with a "Joe six-pack" in the White House... "who wants to be called the lowest common denominator?" They giggled while talking about Pecknold removing his shirt to ease the profuse sweat pouring down his face. They discussed the brand name "Celestial Seasonings," and joked about and with each other during their tenure on stage.

At one point during the show all band members save Pecknold left the stage. What occurred I can't explain, but maybe can be shown by a sub par You Tube video. The sound, of course, isn't the greatest, but it's not bad. Maybe it will give you a hint of what the audience enjoyed.

After this short solo set, the band rejoined Pecknold on the stage. They glided through the songs on their self-titled album, and the crowd was blissfully silent. It was a show that left me happily floating, ready to go out into the cool air and home to a loved one.

Full Photo Set here.

Download mp3:

White Winter Hymnal

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall

If anyone is looking to send an early Christmas present our way, head on over and order the 2-disc concert recording Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall that Nonesuch Records is releasing this Tuesday. Wim Wenders included footage from this concert in his documentary, but this is the first time that the full live recording has been made available. This is bittersweet, now that some of the greatest elements of the Buena Vista Social Club- singer Ibrahim Ferrer, pianist Ruben Gonzalez and guitarist Compay Segundo- have gone up to the big hootenanny in the sky.

I saw them, my first concert in the States, late fall 1999, cold and after the first snow, on a field trip with my Spanish class. Ms. Lundberg, whose Scandanavian surname always contained a cognitive dissonance in describing the tiny Cuban firecracker, rightly convinced the St. Paul Public School District that this was a cultural event that could not be missed and herded us all onto buses to Northrop Auditorium. I remember Ferrer grinning wildly and twinkling in the lights, the stately Omara Portuondo accompanying him and seeming to float above the rowdy joy from the band. They all lit up the stage, crackling with energy and a grace that made the music transcendent of the politics that had kept them unknown and almost scuppered the tour, and made a kid on field trip feel like things were connected at their very core by an excitement that could be made palpable- it was visible in the people standing, cheering, swinging out in the aisles to two-step, ushers standing to the side and everyone partying. Don't deprive yourself of that kind of feeling, either live or on record.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yeah Baby!

The Rock the Vote bus will prolly be there too... Woot!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

Theater company Lamb Lays with Lion is holding a staged reading of a new play 10/14, written by CakeIn15 contributor Dan O. and featuring CakeIn15 boyfriend c.a.s. We're proud of it, it's ours, we'd like it to be yours.

Dates: ONE NIGHT ONLY- Tuesday October 14, 8pm
Tickets: Free Admission, $5-20 suggested donation at door
Theater Information: Cedar-Riverside People's Center Theater- 425 20th Ave S, Mpls 55454

Monday, October 6, 2008

PostSecret at the Minneapolis Library

PostSecret, a blog turned into an international phenomenon, is stopping in Minneapolis to show some of its collection of postcard secrets. Frank Warren’s community art project invites people to anonymously share a secret on a postcard and send it to him. The traveling exhibit contains 400 postcards. The blog posts a new set of postcards every Sunday.

I've always enjoyed reading this blog. It's both disturbing, sad, and heartwarming all at once. People really do open their hearts in these tiny anonymous postings. There are also a few PostSecret books you can check out too.

Here is when you can catch the free exhibit:
October 4-November 30
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Cargill Gallery

During Library Hours:
Tues., Thurs.: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Wed., Fri., Sat.: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.,
Sun: Noon-5 p.m.

Thanks to City Pages for the info!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chuck Klosterman Entertains at The Triple Rock

For the second time in three years I jumped at the opportunity to check out a live interview with author and pop culture kingpin Chuck Klosterman. His books include the wonderful mish-mash of essays titled "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs," and his first book about his own adolescence, "Fargo Rock City." Klosterman's general m.o. is to write non-fiction books and articles about what he knows... small towns, drinking, drugs, girls, and music. More specifically, metal music. Even though I myself am not a big fan of metal, I find Klosterman's writing to be extremely entertaining. As expected, the man himself does not disappoint.

Klosterman recently released his first fiction novel, titled "Downtown Owl." During his interview with The Pioneer Press' Ross Rahalia, Klosterman admitted that writing fiction was pretty tough. Even though Klosterman hasn't strayed too far from his own background of small town inhabitant, he still found it more difficult to write someone else's history. The story revolves around various characters who live in the small (fictional) town of Owl, North Dakota. I'm not going to be the one who gives you the summary off the dust jacket, and since I just got my copy of the book, you can read more about it here.

Klosterman and Rahalia discussed a myriad of topics, ranging from what was probably happening during the Vice Presidential debates to what was probably happening at the My Morning Jacket concert taking place on the other side of town. Apparently we (those in attendance) were the kind of people that didn't care about politics or MMJ, but instead flock to a nightclub to hear a crazy man rant about whatever the hell came into his head.

It is always interesting to hear the animated Klosterman talk about his writing. Rahalia asked whether this style of writing about metal, or even just music in general, would exist without "Fargo Rock City." Klosterman's opinion was that most things in life are cyclical - metal was due for a comeback and he was in the right place at the right time to write about it. Although this may be partially true, it takes a talent to really make this shit interesting to a wider audience. There are many self-professed rock critics and writers out there, but not many who do it well enough to garner the well-deserved attention Klosterman has received.

After Rahalia's interview, the audience was asked to throw out questions for the author to answer. They ranged from the absurd (something like whether time travel or thinking liquid metal were actually going to happen - Klosterman vehemently declared time travel completely implausible, and so opted for the alternative), to the expected ("What was Britney Spears really like?"). All questions were taken seriously and answered regardless of topic, because Klosterman actually has fun with his audience. Some expressed disappointment that he chose not to read from his new novel - and in fact his new book was only briefly mentioned twice during the entire night. Those members were promised an audiobook to make up for their trouble, which I thought was extremely generous.

As I end this string of ramblings about an author I adore, I leave you with a direct quote from the man himself via New York Magazine. Hopefully this gives you some idea of why I read his books.

So, how do nerdy guys get chicks? "Well," Chuck said, "it's like this. You used to be able to tell the difference between hipsters and homeless people. Now, it's between hipsters and retards. I mean, either that guy in the corner in orange safety pants holding a protest sign and wearing a top hat is mentally disabled or he is the coolest fucking guy you will ever know."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The New UnCool

The first time I heard Ben Folds Five was on the radio – Back when kids used to listen to the radio and Top 40 was at least two years away from taking over along with its Clear Channel poison. The song was “Battle of Who Could Care Less,” and within a few days I had ordered the album through BMG. A little later, “Brick” hit the airways and wouldn’t go away, but I had already memorized the album and it hardly mattered that it had an overplayed single. That, plus I made out for the FIRST TIME with a girl named Sarah from Warroad, MN with Ben Folds Five playing in the background. I was fourteen years old and it was beautiful. Six years later, Sarah would be a lesbian (no joke!), and Ben Folds Five would be simply “Ben Folds,” already on the long slide down into hipster hatedom.

On September 11th – You know, thee September 11th, I had pre-existing plans of going to buy Ben’s new album “Rocking the Suburbs.” Classes were cancelled by noon, and after a few hours of watching smoking remnants and frenzied newscasters in New York, I wandered across campus to (the former) No Name Records only to find that they had sold out all the albums in stock, and due to the fact that no planes were being allowed to fly anywhere in America, would not have a new stock in until things got less “crazy” in the world. I went to four record stores that day, on foot, walking across a quiet shocked Minneapolis in search of the album, which I finally found and purchased at CD Warehouse… a place I rarely went due to lack of selection and over-all cheerlessness. That, plus they charge too much.

I went home to the dorms and devoured the album, playing it over and over again – Those opening power chords of “Zak and Sara” still make me feel that everything (regardless of what everything might be) will be, eventually, all right.

Subsequent albums were somewhat of a let-down in the face of the immediacy of “Rocking the Suburbs,” and so it was with a bit of reluctance that I stopped by the Electric Fetus to buy his brand-new Way To Normal yesterday afternoon and listened to it while I cooked gnocchi (the freeze-dried easy to prepare kind) and waiting for Katie Rose to come home from work. I wasn’t sure if it was cool to like Ben Folds anymore… No one looked at me weird at the Fetus when I bought it, but usually I get comments on ‘what a great album’ it is when I buy new junk, and this one was met with stolid silence. I wondered momentarily if this is what happened to Elton John fans in the ‘80’s. Elton was rockin’ too, remember that? Then he got chubby and elegiac.

I am pleased to report, however, that the new Ben Folds album is pretty good. It’s not great, it’s not even close to perfect, but it has enough sparkly piano and upbeat irony-clad sentiment that I look forward to going home tonight and spinning it again, bouncing around the room to that big-production synth-n-string backed power pop. It’s probably very un-cool, but I’m okay with that. It makes things seem retrospectively “all right.”

Stream Way to Normal via Spinner here.

Sarah Palin: Poetry in Motion

We here at Cake in 15 pride ourselves in having read a little poetry here and there. Yes, our bodies have been sung electric and we have had elevators drop us from our day. Sylvia Plath, Nikki Giovanni, Louise Gluck, Sharon Olds, we love you ladies. But the newcomer on the scene, with her direct language as well as nuance and vivacious imagery, well, Sarah Palin, pencil yourself in for a Wallace Stevens Award. Just remember, it's important to have a good editor, and let people know where you stand.

"On Reporters"

It's funny that
A comment like that
Was kinda made to,
I don't know,
You know ...


(To K. Couric, CBS News, Sept. 25, 2008)

Check it all out on here.