Music » Livewire

Camper Van Beethoven

With Trampled by Turtles. Wednesday, January 18, at the Beachland Ballroom.


Returning after a 15-year hiatus -- during which leader David Lowery launched the far more successful Cracker (remember "Low"?) -- Camper Van Beethoven melded the quirkiness of its earlier incarnation with Cracker's pop sensibility and a newfound relevance on its 2004 comeback LP, New Roman Times.

Though CVB's offbeat music always harbored a political undercurrent, the band's latest album goes further; like Americanized The Wall, it expresses contempt for -- among other things -- our penchant for offering "assistance" where it's not welcomed. In this veiled parable, a young man joins an elite military unit, grows disillusioned, is discharged, enlists in an antigovernment militia, and becomes involved in the religious/ lifestyle war in occupied California. It's a funny, often sublime commentary that's matched by the band's effortlessly eclectic arrangements (abetted by Jonathan Segel's virtuoso violin), from the Ted Nugent-class stadium-rock ode to the folky, pedal-steel pop song "That Gum You Like (Is Back in Style)," to the gypsy/klezmer waltz "Might Makes Right." It's an impressively complete and focused work.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.