When OnMilwaukee.com contributor JC Poppe mentioned the Camper Van Beethoven show earlier this week, he predicted it would be a trip down memory lane. Indeed, for those of us who were fans in the '80s and '90s, it was.
The show, which took place at Shank Hall, was a mix of back-in-the-day favorites along with new songs that will most likely appear in the band's upcoming album predicted to come out later this year.
It was not the band's first trip to Milwaukee; it had prior gigs many years ago at the now-defunct Toad Cafe, Cafe Voltaire and the still-very-much-alive Bastille Days.
Tonight, the five-piece sounded very in sync and had a cool-but-present vibe. Camper opened the show with "All Her Favorite Fruits," and went on to hammer out old faves like "Sweethearts," "Good Guys and Bad Guys," "Eye of Fatima," "When I Win The Lottery," "Turquoise Jewelry," "Pictures of Matchstick Men," "Take The Skinheads Bowling" (of course) and a gaggle of new songs. (I yelled out "She Divines Water" three times but nobody seemed to notice except maybe the bass player who squinted in my direction after one shout out.)
"Take The Skinheads Bowling" remains an anthemic college radio hit today and was featured in the Michael Moore film, "Bowling For Columbine."
As usual, Jonathan Segel, violin player (and guitar player) added so much to the show, proving, once again, that the violin is totally punk rock.
Most of the members of the band have worked on individual solo projects, and yet, since 1999, have frequently rejoined to perform as a group. Lead man David Lowery fronted the more traditional rock band, Cracker, and released his first solo record, "The Palace Guards," in 2011.
The 51-year-old Lowery, wearing a wool sweater both ironically and not ironically (since he is, after all, from California and not used to Wisconsin winters), has aged gracefully and has a confident presence. His voice, however, has changed and it's now lower than it was 20-plus years ago. For the first half of the show, Lowery took his reading glasses on and off to read the set list, and finally just left them on for the second half of the show.
Their signature humor that's present in their lyrics was present throughout the show, from the beginning, when they announced themselves as the Blue Man Group.
Most of the crowd was in their 30s or older, quite possibly, like myself, former slackers or skateboarders who, back then, devoured anything anti-establishment like a bag of Skittles.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.