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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cracker Performs an Intimate, Stripped-Down Set at Euclid Records: Review

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 5:17 AM

Page 2 of 2

They set up quickly on a stage at the back of the shop, and fans crowded in between the rows of albums. One guy moved up into the middle of the crowd with his black duffel, from which he extracted a field recording set-up, planting a tower with dual microphones in the middle of an aisle like this was the fucking Grateful Dead.

"Hey, we're Cracker," Lowery said into his mic a minute later, and the band started up with "Almond Grove," a track from the new album.

It was a stripped-down version of the group -- just Lowery on acoustic guitar, Hickman on lead and a guy they called "Pistol" playing pedal steel. The arrangement was well-suited to the country setlist; the room's warm acoustics complemented Lowery's guitar, and the cry of the pedal steel sounded high and lonesome. Fifty or so people bobbed along to the music, and it had the atmosphere of a big coffee shop show.

The band played three more tunes, and Lowery thanked everyone for coming out. There was a slight disappointment in the air. He turned to the other guys, and we could hear him say, "Let's play two more."

"All right, here's another hit," he said into the mic, softly fingerpicking a familiar set of chords. "I don't know what the world may need, but I'm sure as hell that it starts with me," he sang.

The room took on new energy. Lowery and Hickman built it, strumming harder, and Lowery ripped into the mic with those classic cynical lines: "What the world needs now is a new Frank Sinatra, so I can get you in bed!"

Finally, that sound was there. The one that made the group famous, and that always draws me back. Cracker has performed it for over twenty years, but "Teen Angst" still kicks ass. Lowery's voice was earnest and intense, with a gravelly razor-blade rasp that gave me goosebumps. The crowd cheered wildly as the band finished, everyone tingling with excitement.

The group signed autographs for about twenty minutes, and then their taxi returned to whisk them away. We left too, and as we got in the car, I asked my dad what he'd thought.

"Oh, they were pretty good," he said, looking out the window.

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