Performed July 26, 2013 at Café Acoustic in Saint Joseph, Missouri

The first time Sneaky Creeps played with Cupcake we opened for some shitty singer named Cock Douglas at The Record Bar. Cock had hired a backing band of professional musicians who knew some of the members of Cupcake, so they had asked Cupcake to open for them. Sneaky Creeps had just started playing bar gigs and The Record Bar owner Steven thought we would fit well with Cupcake. Steven was right. We loved playing with Cupcake, but more importantly both bands abhorred Cock Douglas. While Cock sang through his set the rest of us were drinking on the patio waiting for the show to be over so we could maybe get some sort of payout. Wishful thinking. Thanks Cock.

Fast forward a year and a half later and Sneaky Creeps once again shared a stage with Cupcake at a little place called Café Acoustic in St. Joseph, Missouri. Cupcake was still comprised of the same four members; Jeff Jensen on drums, Kiley Bodenhamer on bass,  Shardy Darnell on lead guitar, and Marc Darnell on guitar and vox. Cupcake has a pretty standard setup, but it’s important to note that these musicians are all in the latter half of their 30’s or even working through their mid 40’s. With older, gigging musician’s it’s reasonable to expect some Classic Rock stylings, possibly some old-hat New Wave, perhaps a little 80‘s Hardcore/Metal, or maybe some Alt-Rock with a wash of Americana. Cupcake eschews these tropes and offers an attempt at being their own band. Additionally, Marc’s on stage antics make their shows that much more entertaining. For example, If you listen to the accompanying recording you’ll hear Marc as he plays a card game with the audience for REAL MONEY. In case you’re suspicious, I can vouch that Marc made good on his payouts.

Like other bars in St. Joseph Café Acoustic is a “One-O-Clock” bar, and unlike most cities in the United States, indoor smoking is still legal in St. Joseph. This means you can go to a show and leave with the real smell of a bar on you. That being said, Christina, who books the shows at the café, runs a pretty tight ship. She’s no hard ass, but she makes sure the bands are provided for. On the recording you can hear her introducing Cupcake, as well as coming on stage to encourage the audience to throw money in the tip jar or buy raffle tickets (the raffle was more successful). She also pays out bands from the money made at the bar as opposed to the money made at the door. While it may seem counter-intuitive, paying out from the bar makes a lot more sense in this kind of situation. Neither band was going to draw hundreds of people to that show, but people were still interested in finding their way to a bar on a summer Friday night and putting down a few libations. The bar saved money by not having to hire a door man and because Café Acoustic is bar that is known for having frequent live and local music. The latter is key. Cultivating a space that carries the expectation of affordable yet ever-changing live music is paramount to having a successful music venue, because that venue now has a built-in-audience of people who frequent it just to see and listen to something new. Without this audience bands must rely on the power of promotion, their name, and their brand to attract crowds, which is often not enough to sustain any sort of lifestyle. Local bands can have it hard, but I have even witnessed bigger, touring bands have problems with drawing audiences. Bands like Quasi, Boris, or even Os Mutantes, all of whom have played shows internationally to audiences of thousands.

So maybe the cards can be stacked against the musicians, but the members of Cupcake don’t really seem to care. They seem happy and excited to simply be playing shows, performing for audiences, and doing what they love. Maybe they weren’t sure if being in a band was something they would be doing at their age, but here they are, still making noise. Cheers to you Cupcake.


Listen to Cupcake’s set now with the embed below (36:34)

Listen to Cupcake’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

Set list for Cupcake

1. Card Game Pt.1

2. Feels So Good (:52)

3. Divorce (3:11)

4. Card Game Pt.2 (8:36)

5. Big Boys (9:17)

6. Fetch (11:37)

7. Card Game Pt. 3 (14:42)

8. Feet Fell Down (16:27)

9. Mustard Seed (22:23)

10. Short Bus (25:58)

11. Vacation (30:18)

12. Those Kids Played Hard (33:32)

This music was recorded and posted with permission of the band. If you’d like to support them then take a day trip to St. Joseph when they’re playing and hang out in front of the stage, otherwise there aren’t many other options. If you like this blog then follow it and post a comment with some feedback.

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