Thursday, July 05, 2007

18 May 2007: The Sea and Cake

18 May 2007
The Sea and Cake
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus Ave (btwn Francisco & Chestnut) [Map]
Drinks consumed: 2-3 cheap Bud Lights each
Review at The Owl Mag

Chicago's Sea and Cake have been making sweet, jazz-influenced soft rock melodies since their self-titled debut album in 1994. The lineup has not changed, with Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop in the front on guitars and vocals, Jim McEntire on drums, and bassist Eric Claridge. They're hardly the darlings of the hipster set and have managed to remain somewhere just below the mainstream radar for the length of their career. But they are talented and accomplished musicians—Prekop and Prewitt have released solo albums and McEntire is the drummer for Tortoise—and they continue to produce uniquely Sea and Cake albums 13 years after they first formed.

Their stop in San Francisco was at my favorite venue, Bimbo's. The acoustics bring out the best in every band I've seen there. In the case of the Sea and Cake, the "best" was a warmth in their rolling guitar and bass melodies captured beautifully in this intimate—but not too intimate—space. They opened with "Up on Crutches," the first track from their latest release, Everybody. Other highlights from the new album included "Too Strong," "Introducing," which has the best bass line on the album, and "Middlenight," with its Dick Dale-esque guitar parts. For longtime fans they played "Parasol" while cooing couples in the audience swayed.

Sam Prekop's "fall" on stage during an exhausting guitar solo showed a sense of humor that's been missing from too many bands' performances these days. They also invited a friend to come sit on stage and read an issue of Mad magazine during part of the set. A Sea and Cake performance is refreshingly not about ridiculous outfits or lop-sided haircuts or a scene: it's about the music. It was a joy to see a band who's been around this long not take themselves too seriously. For the first time in a long time, I have no complaints about the audience. There was certainly a bit of goofy dancing and off-beat head-bopping, but everyone was laid back and, most importantly, really into the band. People were friendly, willing to share space, and there to have fun.

This was definitely my favorite show of 2007 so far (and not because Sam Prekop personally delivered a photo pass to us in the lobby). The crowd was great, the sound was great, and the band was awesome.

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