A January tradition continued Saturday night as David Lowery’s bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker rocked a sold-out World Café Live. Both bands sounded glorious as they took a crowd full of memories for Camper and Cracker from the 1980s and 1990s for a rock-infused two-hour-plus ride.
Camper began the night with its eclectic mix of guitar and violin, quick songs, and the occasional instrumental. Lowery, bassist Victor Krummenacher, string-player extraordinaire (violin, mandolin, and guitar) Jonathan Segel, guitarist Greg Lisher and drummer Frank Funaro blasted through a set mixing new and old. And the freshest work, like the instant sing-along “Northern California Girls” from 2013’s La Costa Perdida, fit in perfectly with such set staples as their brilliant cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and, of course, their ultimate tongue-in-the-cheek moment in “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”
Lowery used a rare solo moment to ease into the set by Cracker, the more straightforward rock cousins of Camper Van Beethoven: With just a banjo and his voice, he delivered a glorious rendition of Camper’s “O Death.” The next two numbers were only played with Cracker’s other larger-than-life personality, guitarist Johnny Hickman. The glorious intimacy of the set gave way to Cracker’s blunt anthems of desire, like the always welcome “Low,” with the help of bassist Sal Maida and another double-duty performer in drummer Funaro. With a crowd that rearranged between bands to accommodate the ebbs and flows of taste, Cracker delivered with such memorable moments as “Big Dipper” and encore “Eurotrash Girl.” The show was as energetic and passionate as anyone could demand, and it was reassuring to know, as you savored every guitar strum and gravel-voiced utterance, that you’d be back next January to experience it all over again.