Carina and I went to see Cake last night with Patti (happy birthday, Patti!).

Opening for Cake was Northern State (caution: embedded music!). The girls came out whooping and hollering, and launched into an energetic rap show. I don’t think anyone in the audience was quite prepared for their performance. As I looked about, most of the people had their heads cocked to one side, mouths slightly open, with a look of stern concentration on their faces. “Huh?” was what most people were probably thinking. After the first song, as people realized that this really was a rap group, everyone lightened up and started bopping to the lyrics. Northern State put on a solid, high-energy performance – I think that kind of rap is really hard to do well, and it’s got to be physically exhausting. Of course, they were a little silly too – their stage names are Hesta Prynn, Sprout and Spero. I thought it was “Hesta Primm” for the bulk of the show, so I kept making Scarlet Letter jokes to Carina. Some of their lyrics were hard to understand, and lended well to creative (and silly) interpretation.

After a long wait between acts, Cake finally came out. Their second song was “Racing and racing as fast as he can” (can you tell I’m a hard-core Cake fan?), after which the lead singer announced that all the jocks who had come for that song could now go home. Much laughter from the audience. Cake played for about an hour. They’re great musicians, and I truly enjoy watching as well as listening to them. The trumpet really adds a lot of flavor to their music. Somewhere during their set the singer took a moment and admonished everyone to consider what a luxury we have in running water, considering that over half the world’s population lacks it. Alas, I don’t think many people in the audience got the point.

This show was a lot different from the last time I saw them. Last time, they were mellow, and a really positive vibe spread throughout the audience. This time, the lead singer was considerably more abrasive – even if he was just joking – and I think the audience took note of that. The vibe wasn’t nearly the same.

Off to our left was a guy wearing a ballcap who would, at random times throughout the night, doff his hat and hold it aloft, turning this way and that to make sure everyone saw it. It took three or four iterations of this process for me to finally see that it was a Boston Red Sox hat. I guess he was really happy that his team had made it into the World Series, or something. I just thought it was a ridiculous way to show his enthusiasm. He was so serious about the whole thing. Maybe he was looking to pick a fight with a Yankee’s fan, or something.

A short distance in front of us was a group of college boys who kept holding up their hands with their fingers in the shape of a W (wrap your middle finger behind your ring finger, splay out your index and pinky and tuck your thumb into your palm – that’s what they were doing). For the longest time, I thougth they were being silly by trying to be “West Side”, as a holdover from Northern State’s performance. But after Cake criticized George Bush, all the W hands turned into raised middle fingers, and I realized that the college boys were making “Dubya” signs.

Which reminds me of something that’s been bothering me for some time now. Last Saturday our family went to the weekly roadside rally. Since before the invasion of Iraq, concerned citizens have been congregating at the corner of High St. and E. N. Broadway to voice their concerns, verbally and visually, to passers-by. It’s a busy intersection, so there’s quite an audience for the course of the gatherings. Carina and I have participated a number of times – before, during, and after the invasion – to voice our opposition to the conflict. Lately the event has been a pro-Kerry event, although there’s still a lot of anti-Bush sentiment.

Of course, we’re not alone: a group of people supporting the invasion, and supporting the administration, also show up, to present their opinion opposite ours. They usually stick to the other side of the street, but sometimes they cross over to our side, to cover our signs with their gigantic American flags. Things have always remained calm, if not exactly civil, while I’ve been there but I imagine it’s only a matter of time before physical conflict ensues. From my perspective, the folks speaking against us are considerably more belligerent and antagonistic. Go figure.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed – and what I find tremendously disturbing – is the difference in reaction of the drivers passing us based on which side they favor. People who share our opposition to the war often honk and give us a thumbs up, or a smile and an enthusiastic wave. Our side cheers and waves back to them all. People who support the war only occasionally honk and give thumbs up to the group advocating their opinion. Instead, they most often shout insulting comments, and present their middle fingers to us.

What really amazes me is that our side almost always has children present. Carina and I take the twins with us, and other families are present, too. It’s highly unlikely that the people insulting us can’t see the kids, and as such it really bugs me that the people who support George Bush are so eager to be mean and vulgar in the presence of children. I don’t know why I let it bother me. I just wish people could be civil.

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