It's rare that Deb and I get out to see a rock show together these days. She's usually exhausted from the work week and is more content to stay in or do something a little earlier in the evening, as opposed to standing in a crowded rock club until the wee hours. But last weekend, taking advantage of the MLK Day holiday, she suggested we go to the Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven show at the Middle East Downstairs on Sunday night.
David Lowery brings his two bands to the Middle East every year on that weekend (and has since 2005), and it just so happened that the last show we went to was these two bands playing here two years ago, also while the Patriots were playing in the AFC championship game. And like that year, the Patriots lost hideously on this night, so we were glad to forget about it for a while with some American good rock.
CVB came on first and played an excellent 70-minute set. We watched the third quarter of the Pats game upstairs at the Middle East and then went downstairs when we head the band start up at 9 p.m. We went up by the bar TV and the Ravens scored almost immediately to put the Pats down by two touchdowns, so we decided to head down closer to the stage. Of course, we had some big drunk doofuses in front of us that annoyed Deb to no end, but she's not used to that shit like I am. CVB was a five-piece and sounded sharp, playing some songs from its new album, La Costa Perdida, which I've listened to on Spotify and like very much. "Northern California Girls" and "Too High for the Love In" fit nicely in with the rest of the CVB catalog. Lowery once again used his laptop to trigger instrumental samples. Violinist-guitarist Jonathan Segel was a standout, adding that multi-instrumental feel that sets CVB apart on songs like "Pictures of Matchstick Men," "Take the Skinheads Bowling" and "Sad Lovers Waltz." The band rocked magnificently on "Eye of Fatima, parts 1 and 2," which was the song that really got me into them back in the late '80s.
After CVB's set, Lowery returned with his four-piece country rock outfit Cracker, which shares drummer Frank Funaro with CVB. Johnny Hickman has been with Cracker since the band started in the early '90s and they wasted no time by starting their set with their biggest hit, "Low." The band ripped through 16 songs (although we missed the last during the encore), highlighted by "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)," crowd favorite "Eurotrash Girl" and the Hickman-sung "Another Song About the Rain." Although I would have rather seen more CVB than Cracker, it seemed right that Cracker played last because their sound has more appeal for drunk folks, of which there were many this night.
As they did two years earlier, CVB and Cracker provided plenty of entertainment for a club full of bummed out football fans.