Mid-way through last night’s 90-minute concert at Music Box Supper Club, Cracker singer-guitarist David Lowery talked about growing up in what he called “Eastern California.” “We were so far east, we thought we were right up against Oklahoma or Texas,” he joked while adding that he and bandmate/long-time friend Johnny Hickman were part of the “cowboy clique” at their high school. The ensuing song, a twangy number called “King of Bakersfield,” suggested the direction that Cracker is headed these days. It’s a little bit alt-country and a little bit indie rock. And it suits the band perfectly, especially since Lowery’s former band Camper Van Beethoven had a bit of cowpunk tilt to its sound.
Lowery looked that part too. He wore a Western shirt and a pair of well-worn red, white and blue cowboy boots. Of course, the band didn’t dwell too much on obscurities like “King of Bakersfield” and still delivered the hits. It offered up the catchy, sardonic “Euro Trash Girl” in the set’s first half and followed it up a few songs later with the equally sardonic “Low” and then “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now,” which Lowery delivered with a real sneer. Hickman and Lowery shared vocal duties on “Happy Birthday to Me,” and Hickman capably handled the Drive By Truckers-like ballad “Another Song about the Rain” on his own. The encore featured “One Fine Day,” a plodding hypnotic number that allowed the band to stretch out a bit. A few fans were disappointed that the band didn’t play “Get Off This,” and the group clearly left fans wanting more, but it was a solid show nonetheless.
The show was one of the first rock-oriented concerts to take place at the newly opened Music Box. The venue is a good addition to the city’s terrific circuit of clubs and concert halls. The sound mix sounded sharp (especially in the “bowl” toward the front of the stage) and the sightlines are great (except if you sit at the far end of the bar). When attending a more rocking show such as Cracker, a designated general admission area for patrons that want to stand up or dance would certainly be welcome. And the minimalist lighting rig that cast the stage in a static orange hue wasn’t ideal, although you could chalk that up to first-week adjustments. But these are minor grievances. The wait staff was courteous and efficient and the club offers an intimate setting (with some great river views) that music fans will likely come to cherish.