Recap: Cracker at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas on Sunday, August 20

Posted on Saturday September 2nd in

Words by Chad Berndtson

“We’re just an old road dog band that travels the world,” Cracker frontman David Lowery told a St. George, Utah publication earlier this month. He might have also described Cracker as a band that endures, here now a good two decades from their 90s heyday and a streak of radio dominance with hits like “Low,” but self-aware and quite comfortable with the more countryfied outfit they’ve become.

You might feel a touch nostalgic when the five-piece lights into “Low,” as they did, this night, near the end of the way through a sturdy 90-minute set at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas. But Cracker in 2017 isn’t a nostalgia band; they’ve burrowed deep into what critic Robert Christgau described as a sort of Inland Empire country rock without losing the “rock” part of what endeared them to audiences in the first place. Expect some straight-ahead Bakersfield twang, but expect some ferocious guitar and snarling lyrics, too — the same balance that Cracker’s last album, 2015’s “From Berkeley to Bakersfield” achieved, and the makeup of the band as a live act now. It’s a lot of fun.

Sunday night’s set started early and firmly in country territory, with “King of Bakersfield” and “Seven Days” and kept earnest momentum with “One Fine Day” — anthemic, even gospel-y at times with a choogling undercurrent — and “Gimme One More Chance.” Cracker’s kind of California showed up often, and nowhere more specifically than “California Country Boy”: “Ain’t no palm trees where I come from / No big waves crashing on the shore.” As an open-road country song it balanced nicely with the expected “Euro-Trash Girl,” “Wedding Day” “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” and a well-chosen cover of Dylan’s “The Man In Me,” which covered similar territory and had a likeminded lonesome/defiant thematic balance.

Frontman David Lowery, guitarist and co-founder Johnny Hickman, bassist Bryan Howard, drummer CoCo Owens, pedal steel player Matt Stoessel and keyboardist Rob Crowell seem to like where they’re arrived. Which is not to be confused with “settled into” — this isn’t settle-down music by any means, and as the band got good and loud — Stoessel’s ribbony steel playing a big highlight — it was clear that angsty 90s flame still burns hot. Older, yes. Countryfied, sure. Slowing down, no way.

— CHAD BERNDTSON (@CBerndtson)

Setlist:

King of Bakersfield, Seven Days, One Fine Day, Gimme One More Chance, Eurotrash Girl, The Man in Me, Sweet Potato, This Is Cracker Soul, California Country Boy, Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now), Get It On Down the Road, Wedding Day, Low, Get Off This, I See the Light

Encore: St. Cajetan

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