What better thing to do on a cold and rainy Friday night in January than go to the World’s Largest Honky Tonk – Billy Bob’s Texas – to see two classic 90’s brother bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. The common elements between the two bands are three common band members… the drummer, the fiddle/organ player, and the lead singer/guitarist David Lowery.
I hate to confess that although I grew up in California and had heard of both bands, I wasn’t familiar with much of their set lists. That being said I was wonderfully blown away by both and so super stoked to have been turned on to them.
The crowd was boisterous, singing along, dancing, and loving every minute of each set.
Camper Van Beethoven was up first and kicked the night off with “Pictures of Matchstick Men” which was a song I had heard before. Yay!
By song three, “Eye of Fatima”, I was dancing in my seat and having the time of my life! I was cracking myself up, though, because I was fascinated by the bands’ style – especially the bass players cuffed jeans. These dudes, that are probably just a few years older than me, had some smooth style and were having some serious fun with the crowd and playing their songs.
They are all just kind of super cool and I wanted to be best friends with all of them.
The lyrics were quirky and smart and I could relate to so much of it. Especially remembering growing up and calling a boy that I liked and then not being able to say anything when he picked up the phone. Haha!
CVB played their first hit “Take the Skinheads Bowling”, which might just be their biggest hit and had the entire crowd singing. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I looked around the entire room and every person was singing along.
These guys are just such fantastic musicians and did an amazing instrumental that blended rock, funk, ska, and “Hava Nagila”. It was probably the highlight of my night for this set! I just sat there with a smile on my face, enjoying watching them play and seeing the fun my friends and the crowd were having.
They closed the set with “Northern California Girls” and when they sang the lyric about coming back to Texas the place went crazy! It was so much fun!!
There was a short break where David said they were going to switch things up a bit and come back as Cracker – which gave me a chuckle.
So, here we are, on to Cracker. Now, the only song I really remember from Cracker is “Low”. I know, I know, so embarrassing! Because their catalog is vast and rich and I’m catching up quickly on all the years that I’ve missed out on this amazing band!
The set started off with “One Fine Day”, great little song that had me humming along! It felt like song after song was hit after hit. “Mr. Wrong”, “Seven Days”, and then came “Get Off This” another one that I recognized! My friend, Jeff was singing along to that one and playing his air guitar…and so was most of the crowd! They wanted us all to remember that if we “wanna change the world, then shut your mouth and start this minute.” I LOVE that!
Next up was “King of Bakersfield”, a great song about living in California, but not by the beach. And then “Low” which had everyone singing, as did “Euro-Trash Girl” and “Teen Angst”. Some of them felt familiar and homie to me… Maybe I know more Cracker than I thought I did!
The encores for the night were a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” and “Sweet Thistle Pie”.
All in all, I sang along, I danced in my chair, shared some good times with my friends, and enjoyed myself thoroughly!
Yup! Not a bad way to spend a cold, rainy, Friday night in early January in Texas!
Photos by Dustin Schneider, words by Susie Ramone