Monday, May 11, 2009

Live: R. Stevie Moore

When: 5/8
Where: Cake Shop

It's been a while since I've checked in with the great R. Stevie Moore, so I thought I'd better head down to Cake Shop Friday and see what's new.

What's new is that he's got a slightly different line-up - there were some the same guys up front, but in the back, Mr. Chuckles (that's the name my brain gave to the previous drummer, probably NOT his real name) had been replaced and the rhythm section had been augmented by some guy with long gray hair and a bunch of auxiliary percussion instruments. I hate to criticize Moore or his band, since they are so richly deserving of respect, but I have to say the new drummer is a step down from Mr. Chuckles and the hippie percussionist was really superfluous, or would have been with a more agile drummer behind the kit.

This set was a little slower than last time's, and tended more towards the bluesy / good ol' rock'n'roll side of things, which isn't my personal preference (I like the more pop stuff and the more punk stuff, anything fast) but I can't really complain because it was still damn good. There was variety too, with a few classic Moore tunes from back in the day, a couple of straight-up pop songs and one real R&B number.

This time around, Moore's audience was more sophisticated and more supportive. There were a lot of musicians in the crowd, including one of my longtime heroes, Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley. (I'm 90% sure it was her, especially because her bandmate/hubby Ira Kaplan is producing Moore & co.'s upcoming album. Kaplan was probably there too, but I didn't see him.) With this kind of audience, Moore didn't really have the chance to be as antagonistic as usual, which was actually kind of disappointing - Moore is one of those musicians who thrives on conflict. But it was also nice to see him getting some serious respect from some serious musicians.

And Moore didn't completely calm down just because people were more receptive. He continued with his half-coherent ramblings between songs, and worked up a lot of anger spitting out his more political lyrics. He was also not wearing any pants, just boxers. So he's still punk rock, like he's been since long before punk rock existed and like he will continue to be forever. Because doing whatever the hell you want to is what punk is all about. And that's exactly the kind of punk Moore's been letting loose since 1968. Respect.


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