It finally happened. Little Gun and I made it to the music mecca, aka Austin, Texas, to see one of our all-time favorites, Bob Schneider, play to his home crowd. We saw BSchneids play two of our three nights in town and it was amazing. Our first night in town was Saturday where he played the Nutty Brown Cafe a few miles out of the city.
We showed up early enough to get a table and eat some delicious kobe beef burgers and down a couple of Shiner Bocks on the enormous patio deck before Bob came on. Actually, we finished eating well before "Johnny," the painfully amateur solo guitarist, opened the show. But for the time being, it was a beautiful Texas night and I was enjoying the delicate taste of fine Texas beer.
Before I start in on the concert, I have to paint a picture of the venue: a LARGE outdoor patio that bumps up to a backyard with a separate bar and soundstage in the middle. After a collection of about 15 picnic tables in the yard portion, a concrete floor adjoins a permanent stage adorned with faded gray logs that have been attached around the base of the stage. I kept thinking I was in Iowa at an extended-family function in the country. Families chatted during the opening act while kids played with trucks, toy guns, and bouncy-balls on the concrete floor. High school kids sat together, enjoying the freedom of summer and the joys of youthful flirtation under a newly threatening gray sky.
I've been a big fan of Bob's since I first heard "The World Exploded Into Love" about four years ago and have since tried to see him live many times. I caught him for the first time with Jack the Rabbit in NYC at the Knitting Factory this past October for a solo show that basically turned into a night of Boddington's and yelling out favorites (which Bob played until about 2 am). My brothers always joke that Bob only sings about "blue skies, bubblegum, and cherry pies." While true, these lyrics do show up in some songs, BSchneids never takes himself too seriously and has plenty of songs that explore religion, drinking tequila in Mexico, relationships, along with songs titled "Big Butts and Blow Jobs", "Perfectly Shaved Asian Teens", and "Assknocker." Basically, Bob doesn't give a shit what you think of his music; he's going to play whatever he feels like -- and I wouldn't have it any other way. His blend of Texas rock, sometimes alt-rap, and feel good soft spots all combine to make Bob Schneider one of today's most underrated artists (outside of Austin, that is...).
While waiting for Bob to come on, Little Gun and I decided to think of what car he drives. I said a Dodge Charger, Little Gun Said an '88 Monte Carlo, and Jack the Rabbit said a '94 Pontiac Firebird via text message. I think that about covers our vision of Bob as a Bill Brasky-type character.
As the clouds began to build, so did our anticipation for Bob. He came out as casual as the atmosphere of the venue and began to play my currently-most-played song "Oklahoma." Even a few drops of rain here and there could do nothing to kill my mood. I was in Texas, with my best friend, listening to one of my favorite artists, and drinking a beer outside. Life was good.
Bob's set was varied and he played plenty of old favorites throughout the night. As Little Gun and I talked earlier in the night, we discussed how random instruments can instantly lift a good song to great song status. My favorite instrument in this category was the mandolin, and sure enough, after a great "Come With Me Tonight," the mandolin came out for "A Long Way to Get" (as well as some fancy whistling work by Bob). Another live Bob favorite, "The Paraplegic Blues" also got a little mandolin action, as Bob brought out the harmonica and rocked.
It seems BSchneids has been moving more towards his rap style as of late with some songs like "Cheaper," "Rollin'", "It's Alright 'Cause I Love You Baby," (with Bob's seemingly favorite toy that can only be described as a mouth keyboard...) and - my favorite - "Mudhouse." I like when he throws these songs into his sets because it keeps everything fresh and the audience on their toes. Bob doesn't have a Jack Johnson-like style that you can define. He goes all over the place, with hard rock tunes like "Everything I Have...", "Holding in the World" and "The Californian" ; soft-lullaby songs like "Big Blue Sea", "Piggyback", and "Metal & Steel"; and funky up-tempo songs like "Round and Round", "Mix It Up", and "Cap'n Kirk" all in one performance.
All in all the night was great, albeit a little wet, and my Austin experience had only just begun. As Bob closed with a lively Scabs (Bob's former band) fan favorite "Tarantula" that had the crowd dancing and singing wildly, and a great cover of "Is This Love," I was hoping for a worthy encore. While not disappointed with "Cap'n Kirk" and "Big Blue Sea," neither were captured on the live cd that is featured below. I guess they had to shut down the recording to get cds burned in time for people to buy them, but I wish they could've made it on because they were a great way to finish off the night.
(*note, the recording is also missing "Love Theme from Mork & Mindy", "My One True Love", and "Getting Better" between songs #13 and #14...this is where the split for the double cd came in...but here's a great performance of Bob singing "Love Theme from Mork & Mindy").
So here is the live recording of the show for your enjoyment. You have to see Bob if you get the chance, be it solo or with his full band. He always puts on an entertaining performance that will leave you feeling like "the world exploded into love."
Bob Schneider - Live at the Nutty Brown Cafe (Austin, TX) 5/26/07
- Oklahoma--I Don't Know For Sure
- Come With Me Tonight
- A Long Way to Get
- The Paraplegic Blues
- Heart Holds Diamonds
- I'm Good Now
- The Californian
- The Californian (cont'd)
- Everything I Have Don't Mean Nothing to Me Now
- Holding in the World
- Flower Parts
- It's Alright 'Cause I Love You Baby
- Round and Round
- Mix It Up
- Boom Box
- Metal & Steel
- Is This Love