The dream of the 90s was alive at the lakefront on Thursday night when college-alt-rock stalwarts Ben Folds and CAKE brought their tour to Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Pavilion.

Folds and CAKE each did about 75 minutes of their best known material. Folds hammered his grand piano with familiar solo and Ben Folds Five songs such as “Brick,” “Zak and Sara” and “The Luckiest”, the latter of which caused a break out of romantic slow-dancing in the audience as many people seemed to be re-living their wedding’s first dance moment with that song. Folds rarely left his piano but did come out to the front of the stage to direct a sing-a-long with the audience providing harmonies for his closing song “Not the Same” from his Rockin’ the Suburbs album.

While Folds’ music was often slower and introspective, CAKE brought the tempo up a bit with many of their classics such as “Stickshifts & Safetybelts,” “Opera Singer,” and “Meanwhile Rick James” with band leader John McCrea using his arms and hands to punctuate each line of his poetic talk-singing, while trumpeter Vince DiFiore filled in the space between with his familiar horn blowing.

A highlight of the night was a small sapling tree that CAKE had on stage for the duration of their show, which they then gave away to an audience member that promised to plant and care for the tree. They do this at pretty much every show now and their website has a map of the “CAKE Forest” showing where all of their trees have been planted.

Boston three-piece Tall Heights opened the show and also acted as Ben Folds’ backing band once their set was done.

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