As a foodstuff, Cake may not be the first thing you’ll crave during 102.1 The X’s annual Chili Cook Off, a day-long event featuring numerous rock bands and plenty of tasty chili. But if you look back to the XL102 days of the station, Cake the band was front and center. Best-known for hits such as “The Distance,” “Sheep Go to Heaven” and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” the group, led by front man John McCrea, dominated the ’90s alternative rock scene with its postmodern and dry-sounding vocal style. Last year the group released “Showroom of Compassion,” its first album in six years, to overwhelming applause. And although they’re newer than Cake, the other Chili Cook Off performers Neon Trees and Cage the Elephant are proving they have just as much drive and ambition. Cage the Elephant’s 2011 single, “Shake Me Down,” occupied the airwaves for most of the year, leading the appearances on late-night shows and festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, while Neon Trees’ debut album “Habits” — and its lead single, “Animal” — brought the band mainstream recognition, including being featured in several commercials and reaching No. 1 on the Alternative Rock chart. Also rounding out the event are California indie-rock outfit Middle Class Rut and Civil Twilight, a power trio that draws comparisons to Muse and Three Days Grace. The X Chili Cook Off takes place at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. $25-$35. 1021thex.com.
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