Seattle Space Needle Reflection at Night

Camper and Cracker at The Crocodile Cafe

The Crocodile Cafe’s, uh, excuse me, The Crocodile’s (because “cafe” is passe’) lighting technician claimed another victim on Friday night.

Cracker had just taken the stage after opening act Camper Van Beethoven’s set, when without warning, the tech aimed not one, but two high-powered spotlights at the guitarist, instantly vaporizing him.

As the panic-stricken crowd raced for the door, front man David Lowery, summoning nearly 30 years of audience-savvy, declared “damn the set list, we must play a hit to regain control of the crowd!”, at which point, he launched into the opening bars of 1993’s “Low”.

It was the right call, because as soon as the chords rang out, the audience turned their attention back to the stage, before making an orderly retreat to their formerly-established spots.

You know, the word “hero” is tossed around quite a bit these days, but this time, it was truly warranted.

Hickman was the first 2016 victim of the Croc’s notoriously bloodthirsty lighting technician, but I’m sure he’ll not be the last. Was it an accident? Was it intentional? The tech wouldn’t say when queried, although she raised several eyebrows after being overheard muttering “I told you … I said that if I couldn’t have you that nobody could, but you didn’t listen … nobody ever listens.”

To their great credit, and as a sign of their professionalism and commitment to fans, despite the tragedy, the rest of the band finished the sold-out show.

Afterward, frontman David Lowry spoke of the incident, “You know, it’s going to suck having to pick up Johnny’s slack for the rest of the tour, but dude kind of had it coming. I mean, the lighting gal treated him pretty well, fed him, gave him a place to stay, even bought him a new Les Paul for Christmas. Then the next thing you know, John walks into sound check with his arm around some Filipino girl, and it’s not that I have anything against Filipinos, I mean, for crying out loud, it’s not like they’re Jews, I just think it was wrong to make the lighting tech find out like that, that’s all I’m saying.”

As for the show itself, I must say that it was pretty damn good. Before Friday, I wasn’t as familiar with Cracker’s less-mainstream work, but the show sparked me to investigate the band’s music library, which is far more impressive than I’d realized. Alt. Rock, Country, Punk, Pop, R&B, there’s a little bit, actually, a lot of it all in the band’s catalog.

That being said, I must say that my favorite song by the band is still one of its more popular tunes. In particular, the song which sports lyrics such as the following:

Petty little Ayatollahs
Come around to judge and stone ya
All’s we’re trying to do is make a fortune
Yeah, we ain’t got no government loans
And no one sends a check from home
But get this: we’re just doin’ what we wanna

Let’s get off this
And get on with it
If you wanna change the world
Shut your mouth and start to spin it
Get off this
Get on with it
If you wanna change the world
Shut your mouth and start this minute

In this day of “Climate Change is killing the planet, quick, let’s all drive somewhere and protest this abomination!”, and “Black lives matter, but only after we gentrify them out of our white, ex-suburban enclaves”, I submit that the song is more relevant now than ever.

Anyway, aside from the obvious, you know, vaporization of the lead guitarist, a good time was had by all. Afterward, I walked home while the Climate Changers in the audience wagged their fingers while driving past me. If I truly cared about the planet I’d travel the world warning people of impending climate doom. At least that’s what I’m told.

As for Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker, well, what remains of these groups finished off their tour in Portland on Saturday before taking a break and playing Athen’s 40-watt Club in late January.

Oh yeah, and David Lowry just sued Spotify, so that should keep him a little busy. Fight the good fight, brother.

The music world will miss Johnny Hickman.

David Lowery sitting in with Camper Van Beethoven

David Lowery sitting in with Camper Van Beethoven

Now, David Lowery sitting in with Cracker. What an attention whore.

Now, David Lowery sitting in with Cracker. What an attention whore.

The Vaporization of Johnny Hickman. May he Rest in Peace.

The Vaporization of Johnny Hickman. May he Rest in Peace.

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