The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



The Show 2005

Bob Costas | Monday, August 29, 2005

Although The Show is billed as Notre Dame’s biggest concert of the year, it seemed merely like an extension of Frosh-O activities. Veteran alternative-rockers Veteran rockers Cake and newly debuted rapper Akon played to a crowd of about 2,500 students at the Joyce Center. Under the watchful eyes of numerous overzealous Notre Dame security guards, the performances were at times awkward and interrupted.

Akon’s biggest moments came when he sampled Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” and performed his single “Lonely,” which is well-known for its background chorus sung by what seems to be Alvin and the Chipmunks. Even though The Show 2005 was Akon’s first time to campus, he still found time to make some astute observations about campus culture.

For his song “Bananza (Belly Dancer),” Akon decided to “give the guys what they want” when he brought up five girls on stage to do their best belly dances in front of their peers. It was a nervous moment for all five involved. Akon seemed to enjoy the fact that he was able to get five college girls to grind in the background of his track, continuously making catcalls and snide remarks to his backing band and DJ.

Unfortunately, for many of the true rap fans in attendance, Akon spent much of his hour-long set not performing. Instead he wasted time talking to the crowd about inane subjects that made some wonder whether he was just phoning in his Notre Dame gig.

Cake, who began their set at around 9:40 pm, opened with “Frank Sinatra,” a signature deadpan pop song off their platinum 1996 album “Fashion Nugget.” While bearded lead singer John McCrea sang of “A faintly glimmering radio station/While Frank Sinatra sings Stormy Weather,” he was able to evoke emotions of both longing and regret.

Cake, which features everything from bouncing rhythms to mariachi trumpet, played their songs with vigor of a younger band and hardly sounded like mid-90s radio castoffs. With their incessant jams and intricate musical interplay that bounced small bursts of acoustic riffs against the percussion, Cake was a Nor-Cal version of popular jam-band Phish, mixed with a little Weezer.

Unfortunately, even as Cake began to reach a pulsating crescendo in their set, the security staff in attendance ruined the moment. For approximately 10 minutes during the middle of Cake’s set, the bright house lights of the JACC were turned on,supposedly because a few students actually decided to attempt crowd surfing.

Cake finished their set with sing-alongs of their singles and fan-favorites, including a spirited rendition of “Sheep Go To Heaven,” which led to the crowd echoing McCrea’s chants with “Goats go to Hell!” and alt-rock anthem “The Distance” before finishing The Show with a perfectly frazzled take on their recent hit “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” off Cake’s 2001 album “Comfort Eagle.”

Metal barricades stopped the crowd from ever developing naturally in front of the stage. This created an empty expanse of space between the students near the front and the students lounging on the bleachers a hundred yards from the stage. Behind the stage was a massive mural of a landscape painting that appeared to depict Switzerland in the summer, with mountains and flowing streams that looked like they were ripped from “The Sound of Music.” Plus, a huge disco ball hovered over the top the stage.

For many freshmen in attendance, The Show 2005 was less about coming to see the booked acts, and more about meeting new people at an event that didn’t take place in a packed alley off-campus. While small groups of students were lining up at 8 p.m. to enter the JACC, hordes of students were bypassing the arena as if it was invisible.

Even though the crowd fluctuated at times because people were coming and going between The Show and off-campus festivities, The Show 2005 sank under the weight of overzealous security measures.

Also, it is questionable whether or not most of the campus could identify with the two artists selected for this year’s performance.

Thankfully, Cake’s stream of hits from about seven years ago and some enthusiastic freshmen saved The Show 2005. On Friday night, you were able to have your “Cake and Akon too,” but that doesn’t mean it tasted good.