Camper van Beethoven - This well received band broke up after a seven year run in 1990 with leader David Lowery forming Cracker which explored a more California C+W sound. But about a decade later, he and other musical cohorts decided it might be time to play some of that unique brand of indie rock that CvB did so well. And a collected assembly of musicians have managed to keep both bands going ever since. Camper van Beethoven have long been my preferred band and it was great to see them play a set that passed the hour mark. It allowed a lot of favorites to be played such as the extremely likable 'Take the Skinheads Bowling' along with the Status Quo song 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' which has practically become one of their own. The sound was on target and the crowd was here early to take in this excellent set. The violinist who also played some guitar and keyboards is the key component that gives their sound a special unique feeling, while retaining comfort. There was even some roots showing toward the end of the set which was a good lead in to Cracker (although one song reminded me of the Decemberists).
Cracker - We have most all the same musicians with the addition of a steel guitarist. There is more keyboards as well to duel the guitars in the lead portions. I thought that some of the recent album had too much steel guitar high in the mix, but that was not quite as much in the live set. Still the playing is fine, but too much in the classic manner, which I just do not handle as well as most fans. But when I focus on the songs, many of them show fine qualities that have made this band so popular over the years. So the fans dug them, as well they should and the musicians had a busy night, but were up for the challenge of double duty with the requisite style shifts, subtle as they are. Most people should feel they got their money's worth tonight, even if they only like one of the versions, no matter which one.
9:30 Issue of the Night: I have long hated those dolls on restroom door identifier for male and female restrooms as I have long been an unpaid usher helping people ensure they are in the right place whenever I am standing near one on the balcony. But last night the upstairs female restroom was closed, so they converted the male one by putting up a sign in front of the doll with just enough light on it to read. I thought it would be worse, but I only noticed one man entering and exiting to a surprised woman that was about to go in. I know you don't like signs much, 9:30 Club, but maybe some real signage is due now and beyond.