Two ***amazing*** shows, and one "pretty good for the circumstances..."
May 20, 1999 -- CRACKER IN HATTIESBURG, MS ACT I: [A local bar, a favorite hangout of USM students, dark but not dingy, with watered-down liquor and wood from roof to rail.]
A local band takes the stage, and they're not half bad...
ACT II: The Gigolo Aunts. This opening act from Cambridge, MA, has been doing some shows with Cracker and they definitely warrant mention. They're sort of clean and clever rock'n'roll with enough rock to rock a respectable house. They did a lot of material from their new album, _Minor Chords and Major Themes_. (Listening to my shiny new autographed copy right now.) The Aunts did a great job of bringing what started out as a too-mellow crowd into the moment. They asked for requests, and when that request was "Joker," they agreed to play it if the guy who requested it sang...this guy claimed to know all the words and didn't know anything but the chorus. [From stage left, a plastic water bottle sails in and beans him in the head... Mister Lowery, where *is* your water bottle?] When the guy got booted off stage, another guy gave it a shot with a girl doing backup. Talent be damned, the locals did a great job. They had plenty of drunken enthusiasm and a crowd of drunken friends who were now dancing and having a great time. Cracker, watching from backstage, seemed to really dig it. And the crowd was set up to be happy for the rest of the night.
ACT II, SCENE II: In comes Johnny, who accompanies the Aunts on "Why Do I Keep Fucking Up."
ACT III: CRACKER! This was simply an amazing night. Great crowd, a long set, and from mid-set on, a kind of strange energy coming off of the stage. EVERYONE in the band was stellar, in fine form, playing well and having apparent fun.
1.Been Around the World 2.Sweet Thistle Pie 3.Eurotrash Girl 4.Lonesome Johnny Blues 5.Cracker Soul 6.Seven Days 7.Dr. Bernice * 8.Pictures of Matchstick Men 9.Teen Angst 10.Trials and Tribulations 11.Shiner Song 12.Take Me Down to the Infirmary 13.The Good Life 14.100 Flower Power Maximum 15.St. Cajetan 16.Low ENCORE: 17.La Bamba (the Willis Burrito Mix) * 18.The World is Mine 19.I Ride My Bike ** NOTES:
Bob seemed really into it this night especially. He was great to watch. Very theatrical and he played wonderfully.
David seemed to um, cleverly omit or transpose the lyrics to Dr. Bernice. Basically he just got lost. It was noticeable and kind of amusing. And really good anyway.
La Bamba - David sent Willis out to sing this. It was absolutely the funniest thing. (I always thought the lyrics to the second verse were "yo no soy marinero," but they apparently are "I had two bean burritos.") Soon the other members started storming the stage, Frank on a mean tambourine, David struggling with the accordian, and Johnny tearing up the drums. As I recall, Kenny and Bob just hung out and had fun. They were all laughing their asses off and it was just amazing to watch.
I Ride My Bike - This song turned into something like a surrealist short movie, with time warping and twisting. I have no idea how long this song lasted. Five minutes? A half hour? Who could tell with what was going on onstage. The vibe just got more and more intense, to a crescendo of wild Cracker jam. At some point we're pretty sure David was speaking in tongues, beyond the usual muted mike whispers. Nobody had any idea what he was saying and yet it was totally transfixing. The song ended with flying guitars, smashed mike stands, complete anarchy, and Cracker, again, laughing their asses off. Frank wearing his towel on his head.
May 21, 1999 -- CRACKER IN BILOXI, MS (aka Cracker in HELL)
The year of the redneck mama, it was announced with a sign that read "97.9 WCPR - CPR FEST 1999."
This outdoor festival show was boot camp for angry young rednecks. So many Metallica and Ozzy t-shirts, so many string bikinis, could there be any doubt that this was the *perfect* venue for Cracker?
Cracker was by far the least "metal" act in the lineup. Beer bottles were flying onstage on a regular basis. David challenged the rudest ones to come up on stage because he wanted to talk to them. Biloxi's finest were content to stay Bobside jeering, "You guys are fawkin' lame!" As David cast out a few good redneck jokes and antagonized the idiots, Johnny came in with a few quips too, "Bring us the head of stupid!" and Bob expressed his delight that they were actually pissing these people off. From a spectator standpoint the whole thing was pure comedy. The guys did a great job of making light of the situation and still playing a good set. (We forgot to do a set list, with all the people-watching and mosh-pit-death-evasion. My apologies to the Cracker archives...) Well, lots of people knew "Low," and there were a few actual fans. So all in all it was not a classic Cracker show but it was still, of course, worth seeing. And funnier than all git'out.
When they left the stage, the DJ (typical rock DJ) wasn't too pleased. "I guess they had some things to say about Rednecks, eh? Oh, but we *love* those damned Yankees, don't we!" (Glad he read his bio on David) "As long as they come to the casinos and spend their money and then go home again!"
Driving near the venue, on our way to New Orleans a couple of hours later, we saw the guys walking down the sidewalk on their way home from dinner. We didn't have time to scream or cheer or chuck stuff at them.
May 22, 1999 -- CRACKER IN NEW ORLEANS, LA
Another great show. More casual but less weird than Hattiesburg. Another Willis Burrito Remix of La Bamba, this time with some Aunts on stage too. And a broccoli fight between the Aunts in the balcony and Cracker on stage. The stage setup or something made Kenny really stand out. Especially on ET Girl and Been Around the World. He seemed to be having a great time. They all did.
What a pretty venue. What a great town.
Set list (thank's for helping, Mango. Writing can be hard with a beverage in both hands):
1.Been Around the World 2.Eurotrash Girl 3.The Good Life 4.Lonesome Johnny Blues 5.Pictures of Matchstick Men 6.Dr. Bernice 7.The World is Mine 8.100 Flower Power Maximum 9.Trials and Tribulations 10.Teen Angst 11.I Want Everything 12.This Is Cracker Soul 13.Mr. Wrong 14.Wedding Day 15.Get Off This 16.St. Cajetan ENCORE: 17.Seven Days 18.Low 19.La Bamba (Willis et al.)I'll let someone else elaborate on the House of Blues. I'm long overdue for sleep. Incidentally, the grits are great at (no pun intended) the Cracker Barrel, highway home of good food and horrifyingly bad Americana giftery. With butter and warm maple syrup.
Also...Karen, Nancy and I were waiting for Mango to show up, and got to see sound check in the House of Blues by looking through the glass panes in the door. That was really cool.
And here's a Gigolo Aunts link, and that's really about all.
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