Published 1995, The Aquarian Weekly
Despite the cancellation of their appearance on the April 22 David Letterman program, the group's subsequent booking on Conan O'Brien's show kept "Cracker Week" - as April 22-28 was dubbed by New York area fans - at an even four local gigs.
Mid-way through an exhausting spring tour in support of their third Virgin Records release, The Golden Age, the band did an in-store meet 'n' greet and 35-minute set for some 300 fans at the opening of the Times Square Virgin Megastore on Tuesday, April 23, before heading north for a Wednesday night gig at Boston's Avalon Ballroom.
Returning to New York for a feverish Thursday evening performance, the band rocked the Roseland Ballroom with an impressive 90-minute set that resulted in mass sing-alongs, multiple bruises in the pit and limp, disheveled, exhausted-looking bodies dotting the cavernous club long after the group's final encore.
Kicking the evening off with the low-key, semi-majestic "Big Dipper," David Lowery and Cracker wasted little time before slamming the near-capacity crowd with thundering versions of "I Hate My Generation," "Movie Star," "100 Flower Power Maximum" and "Teen Angst" that saw the mosh pit swell, at one point, to well-over 100 happily-colliding bodies.
New drummer Johnny Hott (House Of Freaks) filled in admirably for the recently departed (touring with Joan Osborne) Charlie Quintana; while the addition of Kenny Margolis on keyboards, accordion and percussion added a new dimension to the group's older material and gave a sonic boost to the new songs.
Friday found the band on stage at the Conan O'Brien show ripping through an over-the-top version of "I Hate My Generation" before heading to Oswego, NY, for a disastrous, mud-soaked, semi-surreal Saturday evening gig featuring free beer and a large, unruly crowd from nearby SUNY-Oswego.
The band concluded "Cracker Week" with a free Sunday afternoon show at New Jersey's Montclair State College that found nearly 300 fans and Mother Nature in cooperative moods - while modern technology (the PA system) proved to be as fickle as ever.
The group began the afternoon with "Big Dipper" and "The Golden Age" - which perfectly suited the bright, sunny day and the relaxed, festive atmosphere.
After giving the 10 burly bouncers in front of the stage the afternoon off, Lowery and Hickman traded vocals and riffs on twangin' versions of the countrified "Mr. Wrong" and "Lonesome Johnny Blues" that prompted a few couples to two-step across the amphitheater's dirt and stone dance area.
Picking up the beat, the band blasted out rollicking versions of "Get Off This," "Movie Star," "100 Flower Power Maximum" and "Eurotrash Girl" that nearly blew out the PA and had the dance floor packed. "I Hate My Generation," "Teen Angst" and "I'm A Little Rocket Ship" proved, however, to be all the overworked sound system could handle.
With the stage monitors still working but the PA gone, Lowery had a brilliant idea and turned his monitor around to face the crowd. The rest of the group followed suit and, barely able to hear each other, began a ragged version of "Low" that picked up speed as the audience lent their support by singing along.
The remaining electronics gave out with a mighty, static-filled belch as the band hit the last note - ending the show several songs early, giving the band a head start on the Southern leg of their tour.
Cracker will return to the tri-state area for a June 2 radio appearance on WDRE-FM, a June 6 show (with Sparklehorse) at The Tradewinds, Sea Bright and as the featured band on the June 7 broadcast of The Late Show With David Letterman. The group will also tour this summer with The Cranberries.