Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Live: R. Stevie Moore

I apologize if this review is starting to sound like a broken record - I know I keep mentioning the same folks over and over again, but bear with me. I just keep finding about shows when researching album or about albums when I go to shows. But in the case of R. Stevie Moore, I'm just doing my part to make up for all the blog posts he should have received but didn't over the years.

When: 11/11
Where: Cake Shop

So if you've been paying any attention at all, you'll know R. Stevie Moore did a late night set at Cake Shop last night. I braved a nasty migraine and went, and it was so worth it. This was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts of my life.

Moore looks like Santa Claus if there was no Mrs. Claus to nag him about a haircut and if Santa wore a hip-hop style Brooklyn basketball warm-up suit. Unlike a lot of older musicians (he's only in his mid-fifties but has been putting out albums since the late 60's), Moore hasn't lost his edge - undoubtedly because his edge was always based on him just doing whatever the fuck he wanted to.

photo by max
R. Stevie Moore

Regarding the music, Moore's songs are genre-defying, completely bonkers and excellent gems of American underground pop. There's country there and lo-fi, and punk and powerpop, with spoken word and folk and psychedelic too and a lot of other things you can't quite put your finger on - think Bob Pollard meets Big Star meets the Ramones meets Johnny Cash meets 13th Floor Elevators. OK, never mind, imagining that isn't worth the effort - just listen to the man and you'll see what I mean.

As for the performance, it featured all sorts of antics, some planned, some not. Moore interacted a lot with his lamentably small audience and reminded us all that he's as much a performer as a musician. From bad puns (Proposition 8 = Preparation H?) to trying to eat his lyric sheets (and then tossing the spit-covered page out to the audience), Moore was having fun and making sure everyone else did too. He chided the audience for their youth, heckled back a heckler, ranted incoherently, stopped playing mid-song to take his own picture with the audience and retook it when it didn't come out well enough.

The musicians who joined him on stage were, needless to say, seasoned professionals whose tight playing was all the more impressive because they had to follow Moore's erratic lead and because Moore writes hundreds of songs a year, which doesn't leave them with much time to learn them. Most importantly, they were all clearly having a blast, especially the drummer who looked on the verge of busting a gut the whole time.

If you're in New York and you missed this show, you made a terrible mistake - but you can learn from it, just don't miss your next chances: Maxwell's (Hoboken, NJ) on Nov. 30 and Death By Audio (Brooklyn) on Dec. 4.

On that note, did anyone see the Sea and Cake last night? How was it? I'm guessing this is their last tour.

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