2 December 2008
The Sea & Cake
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell Street (btwn Polk & Larkin) [Map]
We've seen Sea and Cake play twice here in SF and we learned the first time around that they always mix their new songs with songs the long-time fans want to hear. As far as many people are concerned it all sounds the same, but most of them admit it all sounds good. Why mess with a great thing? I willed them to play one of my old favorites off of Nassau, "Lamont's Lament," and I didn't even realize they played it until after the show. [Ed note: Actually it was when we got home and Koshi said something about them not having played it that I told him that indeed they had. Then we listened to it, he remembered them playing it, and was again ecstatic.] Even still, it was all well played, highly articulated, and meticulously crafted—everything that draws a fan back in and keeps us coming back for more. They were flawless.
We saw the Sea and Cake at Bimbo's 365 last May, and it was among our favorite shows of 2007. Much like going to a Police show, a Sea and Cake show is about exact replication of sound. The immersiveness of live music makes seeing Sea and Cake in concert a treat unlike hearing them in studio; even still, they are as much about the craft as they are about the artistry.
The continual requests for adjustments in the levels was at once a sign of respect for each other's musicianship as much as it was a true effort toward the "exact to me" sound. "More in his vocals," Archer would say, just as Sam asked for more volume in his partner's guitar. After a series of adjustments over three or so songs, the songs didn't just sound right, they were truly satisfying. Fans nodded and grinned the grin of approval.
I stood up front for all but the last few songs, tearing myself away to tend to the small crew of friends I had come with. It is truly the best way to determine whether or not you want to see a band play, and next year, if they are in SF, I will be in attendance. I still want to see them play in some tiny venue in Chicago one day.
The re-constructed set-list (we have no idea what order, but we're pretty sure we heard it).
A Man Who Never Sees a Pretty Girl that he Doesn't Love a Little. (A familiar face with a coco puffs box and written cards inside.)
Exact To Me
Soft and Sleep
Flat Lay the Water
Nature Boy [1st encore]
Parasol [1st encore]
Jacking the Ball [2nd encore]