Where It’s At: Cake Shop

Cake shop is in the Lower East Side at 152 Ludlow Street and a short walk from Delancey on the F, Essex on the J/M, Grand Street on the B/D or if I can’t be bothered to transfer I’ll walk the 15-minutes from Canal Street on the Q.

The venue splits into two levels, a café/bar on street level and then a basement where the gigs are held. The café runs from 9am while the bar starts serving at 5pm. A very generous bogof (on all drinks) happy hour is in place from 5-8pm, by which point the doors for the show usually open.

Of course, trading standards would probably shut this place down if they didn’t actually sell cake; I picked out a key lime cheesecake to go with my iced irish coffee cocktail (which was suitably boozy). The cake was good but the slice could have been a little more generous (although perhaps unfairly I compare everything to the gargantuan (and best) pieces served up by Little Cupcake Bakeshop over on Prince Street).

The upper area has seating at the back where the walls are adorned with artwork and band pictures (and yes, they have a thing for string lights).

You can also purchase vinyl, tapes, comics (on this occasion they had Henry and Glenn Forever) and a few CDs upstairs.

What could one want more than a generous happy hour with a good drinks selection, coffee, cake, records, comics and a nerdy interior? Oh yeah, they have shows here! Time to head downstairs then…

I know what you’re thinking, you just had a few cocktails, so let’s get to the important stuff; the bog.

First impressions may recall Death By Audio‘s lugubrious yet endearing facilities, but you’ll find a surprisingly clean room with the bonus of a fully functional sink!

The basement bar has a standard beer selection, with bottles costing $6 and a draft selection which includes the cheap option of Genesee at $4 (a miniscule step up from, say, a PBR) to the standards such as Brooklyn Lagers and Peak Organic Summer for $6, about 8 or 9 beers on draft in total. Yes I’m still pining for a proper British style ale (no we don’t drink warm beer, a good ale should, however, be a couple of degrees below room temperature…).

The room itself is tall and thin with a low ceiling, with the stage only raised about 6 inches, you’ve got some seating at the bar and the wall opposite but if you’re a bit on the short side you’ll probably want to be near the stage otherwise you won’t be able to see. According to the sign, capacity is a mere 74 people, the aircon is welcome although struggles a little bit when it starts filling up.

One quirk of the venue is the positioning of the house speakers. Because of the pillar on the left hand side the speakers are 3 or 4 feet in front of the stage, so if you’re right at the front you’ll be hearing the stage monitors more instead. In general, the shows I’ve seen here lack much of a low-end to the sound and could certainly do with improvement.

A couple of action shots…

Bleeding Rainbow – 11th of February 2013
Pale Lights – 13th of July 2013

My verdict: A nirvana for music nerds in style although the actual concert experience could do with a more balanced sound, the narrowness of the room will be an issue for some, but you’ve got to work with what you have. Cake Shop should definitely be on your radar.

Check out our Cake Shop listings here for future events.

Where It’s At is a new series aiming to review New York concert venues. 

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