Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven @ Billy Bob's, Ft. Worth, TX

Words and photos by Nick Paruch
Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker performing at Billy Bob’s Texas is the perfect scenario in an imperfect world. In a club made famous by the likes of Willie and Waylon, an eighties California indie punk band sings about taking skinheads bowling. Then a nineties alt-americana band, headed by the same lead singer, croons about the search for a “Eurotrash Girl” while club patrons drink Lone Star Beer. At least one thing is constant; music is universal.

The first set opened with Jonathan Sigel playing the strained opening chords of the Status Quo tune “Pictures of Matchstick Men” on the violin. Or since we are in Billy Bob’s should it be called a fiddle. Who really cares it sounds amazing echoing through the hall and definitely got everyone’s attention. Camper Van Beethoven’s set has fairly short, but they played all the classics, as well as, a variation of “S.P. 37957 Medley”, which included Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” & “Dazed and Confused”, plus klezmer classic “Hava Nagila”, which had the crowd clapping along like it was a bar mitzvah. David Lowery commented that this was probably the first time “Hava Nagila” was performed in Billy Bob’s. Most likely. The set ended with “Northern California Girls”, which had the crowd singing along to this CVB favorite.

After a brief intermission David Lowery returned to the stage as Cracker with co-founder Johnny Hickman. The crowd went crazy for the band but there was definitely a lot of love directed towards Johnny. He was humbled. The band started off their set with “One Fine Day” from the 2002 album Forever. Then they played their most honky tonk appropriate song of the night, “Mr. Wrong”. Rascal Flatts or Chris Stapleton could record this song and it would become a country chart topper.

So, is Cracker a country band? Maybe. They do have a pedal steel player. In reality they are a rock, punk, alternative psychedelia, anti-grunge, country, blues and folk band. Not sure what that makes them. How about undefinable and universal.

Throughout the night, the crowd showed their love with groups of fans dancing and singing along. David sang for most of the set, but Johnny did take the mic to sing the “California Country Boy” and when he got to the part where he sings, “I’ve got good friends out in Texas” the crowd went wild!

For the encore, Cracker came back to the stage to play a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” and “Sweet Thistle Pie”. And with that the perfect scenario in an imperfect world ended, the crowd moseyed out having experienced something that will never happen again but will live forever in the memories.

Photos of the show are below:

Camper Van Beethoven

Contributed by Nick Paruch
Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven @ Billy Bob's, Ft. Worth, TX Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven @ Billy Bob's, Ft. Worth, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on January 16, 2019 Rating: 5
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