John McCrea of CAKE during a rare moment of performance at 9:30 Club on Thursday. (Josh Sisk/For The Washington Post)

Nope. CAKE played exactly 90 minutes, the minimum acceptable amount for a band with a 17-year catalog. And that would've been okay if CAKE didn't do everything possible to pull the plug whenever any momentum or excitement threatened to accrue.

A 20-minute intermission after only 45 of music? Allowable if you're going to play at least double that upon your return, or if you're an aging legend who physically requires a midshow rest. These guys are in their mid-40s.

Post-intermission, they burned 10 interminable minutes giving away a tree to an audience member. And eliciting a promise from the winner to re-plant said tree. And to use it to teach his students - he's a teacher - “where food comes from.” And to post photos of himself with the tree on the band's website.

What made the too-casual vibe hurt was that when McCrea & Co. decided to actually play a song, they killed. "Sad Songs and Waltzes," the lovely Willie Nelson tune they opened with, had a dusty melancholy vibe, and the pair of new jams that closed the first set, "Mustache Man (Wasted)" and "Federal Funding," deigned to rock.