It’s natural to feel your favorite band put on one of the best shows you’ve ever seen. For me the Cracker Acoustic Duo show from November 2005 ranks #2 all time on my personal list. (only behind Drive-By Truckers / Heartless Bastards from 2005) This show found just the right blend of Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven / Johnny Hickman solo material to be an amazing night that I will never forget.
Knickerbockers is a small bar in downtown Lincoln and wasn’t full that night, I doubt it was even close. Johnny Hickman and David Lowery still took the stage and put together a perfectly paced set. This was my only acoustic duo show I’ve seen by them and the stripped down sound was enthralling to hear. With what is still my favorite Cracker album, Greenland, in the works at the time I feel the band was on a creative high. The setlist might not blow you away but every song was simply great and I wouldn’t trade any of them out in retrospect.
The truly outstanding moment of the show was the first ever live performance of the American Minor song “Something You Ain’t Got” which would later make the tracklist for Greenland and still remains as one of my very favorite all time songs by my favorite band. I believe a demo version was available online because I remember knowing the song but I’ve researched and can’t find any record of it being performed before this night.
The tone of the set was set right out of the gate with a long and dead-on version of “One Fine Day” that usually finds its spot at the end of most Cracker setlists. After the unannounced debut of “Something You Ain’t Got” the band went into “Teen Angst.” This is not one of my favorite Cracker songs as it was one of the “hits” but this sublime version is easily the freshest version of the song I had ever heard the band do before or since. Hearing the band tackle the brilliant Ike Reilly’s “Duty Free” was another priceless moment; the lyrics to the song are filled with such dry wit it sounds like Lowery could have written it himself. A few CVB songs thrown in were nice to hear, as Lowery’s former band doesn’t seem to hit the area much. (ever) “All Her Favorite Fruit” found a just quiet enough crowd to shine bright and the new CVB song “Might Makes Right” hit right on the mark.
My own voice can be heard requesting Hickman to play “Little Tom” off of his first solo album Palmhenge, a request that was thankfully granted. In retrospect the song actually fit the mood of the set quite well. Several of the standard live songs were played like “Low” and “Mr. Wrong” late in the set.
The encore found the band joking around a bit and diving into a mundane version of “I Want Everything” that became a quiet and polite sing-along with the small Lincoln crowd. They would end with a rare duet for the band with Hickman’s solo tune “Friends” that is still filled with the humor that makes everyone love Cracker so dearly.
The small show with a well-behaved crowd is nearly priceless. Having seen the band over 10 times this is easily my favorite show; it feels like a once in a lifetime experience looking back on it nearly a decade later.
If this sounds like something you would like to hear the audio for the entire show is available here: https://archive.org/details/cracker2005-11-01-flac
Cracker setlist from Knickerbockers Bar in Lincoln, NE 11/1/05:
- One Fine Day
- Guarded By Monkeys
- Something You Ain’t Got
- Teen Angst
- Dr. Bernice
- Eurotrash Girl
- Duty Free
- Might Makes Right
- All Her Favorite Fruit
- Big Dipper
- Been Around The World
- Little Tom
- Trials & Tribulations
- That Gum You Like Is Back In Style
- Mr. Wrong
- I Want Everything