Camper Van Beethoven

Saturday, Oct. 23

Birdy’s Camper Van Beethoven at Birdy’s on Saturday. With time-honored decorum, ironically something for which Camper Van Beethoven is not known, the band refused to let the bastards get them down as they played with borrowed instruments to a nigh sold out crowd. CVB’s guitars and violin were stolen in Montreal, along with all of their CDs and concert T-shirts. Until a rush order from Gibson arrives, CVB will be tuning unfamiliar instruments in each city. Jeff Sample, manager of Birdy’s, quickly rounded up all the necessary tools for the band to use, and CVB said, “Whatever’s in the water in Indy, we want a drink.” David Lowery’s Surfcaster and Jonathan Segal’s violin had been in CVB for over 20 years, and are particularly painful losses.

An imitation of instruments did not beget an imitation of sound, however, as the stunningly tight CVB delivered us all from the darkness of the band’s break-up in 1989. Well-rehearsed, well-revered, always stoic, the original five members sang countless vintage tunes, including the lovely “She Divines Water,” “All Her Favorite Fruit,” “Eye of Fatima,” “Good Guys & Bad Guys,” “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” “Turquoise Jewelry” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”

Songs from their new CD, New Roman Times, contain many overtones of crisp “Cracker,” but David Lowery can’t help but be himself, and we thank him for this. The songs “51-7” and “Might Makes Right,” which CVB defined, then played, to a packed showing at Luna Music, as well as the Birdy’s show, are episodes of political symbolism from the band’s latest thesis. “51-7,” the number given to a young Texan enlisting in the military, depicts the “bright future” lying ahead for the solider. By the time “Might Makes Right” comes around, the young cadet doesn’t know what’s hit him. CVB is earnest in their disgust for political muscle. The show was legendary, but you’d better catch this go around of the reunion: Bassist Victor Krummenacher admitted to me, “When I was young it was great, but now that I have a big mortgage in San Francisco, I’m not sure I can afford to be in Camper Van Beethoven for long …”

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