Irony Merchants

Camper Van Beethoven dissolved in late-'80s skepticism. Now, post-9/11 cynicism is giving the indie pioneers new life.

With a revived Camper Van Beethoven in the works, you'd think that Cracker is getting the short end of the microphone stand. But Lowery doesn't seem concerned.

"Since [1996's] The Golden Age, Cracker has really drifted back into the same territory that Camper was in," he explains. "We started trying to be even more eclectic. I feel like Cracker has developed its own mélange-of-music approach now, like Camper had.

"I automatically go into a different role with Camper because there are so many long, instrumental sections," he says a few moments later. "Because there's a lot of call and response, I try to stay on the side of the stage, so we're flat across the front in Camper, whereas in Cracker I'm in the middle. Maybe that's part of the method acting: I feel like I have a different personality onstage." He uses another metaphor to drive home his point: "One band's alcohol and one's pot."

Bowling for new targets: Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker unite in ironic disgust.
Bowling for new targets: Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker unite in ironic disgust.

Details

Are scheduled to perform on Monday, February 2. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $19, $20 day of show. Call 480-829-0707 for more information.
Marquee Theatre, 730 North Mill in Tempe

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Maybe the unexpected success in the past couple of pointed volleys like Bowling for Columbine is a renewed sign that we need to go back in order to go forward. If people in the 1980s could resist the overwhelming popularity of Ronald Reagan enough to make the Iran-contra hearings happen, and if they could turn the synthesized atrocities of Van Halen into inspiration for a musical subculture with attitude and hope, perhaps this generation can do the same. But we'd be a lot better off listening to bands like Camper Van Beethoven than going to '80s night at the strip-mall dance club in channeling the era's rebel glory.

Yup, irony truly is a dangerous business.

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