Early January in Philadelphia means that it’s time for another dual headlining show by Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. This annual event took over the TLA Friday (a departure from a string of World Cafe Live appearances). With David Lowery fronting both bands and a phenomenal lineup of guitars, strings and drums to back up the unique repertoire of both bands, it was a rollicking good night. Here are some photos and four things we loved.
1. Cracker mixed up the setlist
A band that has straddled the line of indie rock and alt-country, Cracker delivered a varied setlist that could appeal to any fan. Those who came for classics like “Low” and “Euro-Trash Girl” had to wait until the end of the show. Rarer treats like “I’m a Little Rocket Ship” were a welcome surprise, but the phenomenal “Another Song About the Rain,” which has made only sporadic appearances on the setlist throughout the years, was certainly the highlight of the night.
2. A guitar paradise
Not to downplay the stellar bass work of Bryan Howard and the drumming of Coco Owens, but Cracker is front-loaded with the guitar work of Lowery and Johnny Hickman. Sharing vocal duties and guitar chords, this pair excited the crowd on the aforementioned works as well as other highlights like “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” and the staple “One Fine Day,” among many more.
3. Camper Van Beethoven is as relevant as ever
With their eclectic blend of musical flavors, Camper Van Beethoven never stay in any rock comfort zone. Segel, a violinist and keyboardist, mentioned at one point that he currently resides in Europe in one of the “shithole” countries. Not everyone laughed because politics are not universal, but so what; rock is disruptive and this is a band that will certainly play one of the most absurd and brilliant songs of the 1980’s every night: “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”
4. A panoply of talent
To create a song like “Skinheads,” you need the soufflé of sounds from the likes of Lowery, Segel, bassist extraordinaire Victor Krummenacher, guitar phenom Greg Lisher and drumming wiz Chris Pedersen. From their always-engaging cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” to the breezy and catchy “Northern California Girls,” Camper Van Beethoven is a dynamic rock quintet.