Veteran rockers Camper Van Beethoven headed to Solana Beach’s Belly Up

Camper Van Beethoven
(Hillery Terenzi)

“I don’t remember the wildest show we ever played,” says Camper Van Beethoven founding member and bassist Victor Krummenacher. “We’ve played in horse barns, people’s houses, in the freezing cold and boiling hot, we’ve been pelted with beer cans, coins, and raw meat. We’ve been booed and cheered at the same time and we’ve played to 10 people and for 10,000 people.”

For the veteran band, first signed 32 years ago and known for a string of irreverent rock songs, their upcoming gig at Solana Beach’s Belly Up should be relatively tame compared to Krummenacher and his group’s wild, decades-long legacy. “Right now, we’re a pretty orderly sort,” he explains. “I’m not expecting ‘wildness’ so much as just playing some good music”

Natives of northern California (Krummenacher hails from Riverside), the band is one of the rare hard partying ’80s rock groups still active and touring today.

“There’s no real compelling reason to stop as of yet, and we’re very fortunate that our music has seemed to keep resonating with people,” says Krummenacher, who notes the band took a nine-year break in the ’90s. “Our audiences actually seem to be growing these days too. For me specifically, I enjoy playing live still, although I’m not a fan of the travel. So that’s reason enough. I just think we’re fortunate to have the longevity.”

It’s an impressive musical lifespan that stems from a continuing interest in the energy of both their live shows as well as their extensive discography, which includes the track “Pictures of Matchstick Men.” A cover of a 1968 song from Brtish band The Status Quo, Camper Van Beethoven’s version hit No. 1 on the Rock chart in 1989, complete with a riff courtesy of a violin. Another track, their debut single “Take the Skinheads Bowling” is a provocative signature.

“Maybe it was strange at the time,” says Krummenacher of the cult hit which garnered acclaim in the rock world and was recently covered by Rush lead guitarist Alex Lifeson. “But I think on some levels it always made sense. It just kind of rolls off the tongue and works, and the reason things last will always be a mystery on a certain level, and sometimes it’s good just to let it be”

These days, the band is touring with fellow rock band Cracker. (Members of the two bands previously joined forces for a combo act Monks of Doom.) Now, the two acts are touring around the nation, including Pioneertown, California’s Camp Out Festival. They’ll also bring their Summer Vacation Tour to Solana Beach when they take the stage of the Belly Up on Wednesday, July 24 (doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.).

“We’ve been touring around San Diego since I was about 19, so we’ve played the area many, many times,” says Krummenacher, who recently released his own solo album dubbed Blue Pacific.

“With luck we’ll have a good night, won’t break a string, won’t screw up the deep cut in the set list, everybody’s blood sugar will be right, and the drive in wasn’t hell,” he jokes. “If all that more or less happens, we should have a good solid night of music.”

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