by Tom Finkel
Bob Schneider Blueberry Hill's Duck Room Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Austin-based rocker Bob Schneider and his band played for more than two hours straight last night in front of a packed and primed Duck Room crowd. The first few songs were marred by what was obviously inadequate volume on the band's monitors, but the sole stumble after that point was a lamentable miscalculation by the bartender, who failed to stock sufficient cans of Stag, forcing this reviewer to call an audible mid-show. Fortunately, the switch (to Busch, in bottles) was only briefly disconcerting.
As is usually the case with Schneider's shows, the setlist was a hodgepodge -- several songs from the artist's newest release, A Perfect Day, crowd favorites, stuff you've probably never heard before, a couple of requests ("Bicycle vs. Car," "Getting Better") and, to close out the evening, a tribute to the venue Schneider told us in a Q&A earlier this week that he likes to call "a tough old whore," in the form of a (very) rough approximation of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."
For the first time in several years, Schneider brought bassist Bruce Hughes and drummer Conrad Choucroun back to St. Louis. Multi-instrumentalist Oliver "Ollie" Steck continues to anchor the keyboards with a physical presence that would be right at home in a Samuel Beckett play. New to the lineup was Clint Wells, a talented Nashville-based guitarist who appears to be one interesting dude.
Utterly subjective rundown of highlights, in chronological order:
Reimagined version of "2002" -- it's an old song (Schneiderphiles know it was old even in 2002), and although audiences love to hear it, it can't be terribly engaging for Schneider to play it straight. This six-minute, vaguely reggae arrangement featured a vocoder, a melody line that diverges from the original and a slow burn that detonated before coming in for a landing.
"Hit the Window" -- Owes a hat tip to the Ramones, but 100 percent Bob. Must be a new one.
"Honeypot" -- if it's not the second single off A Perfect Day, someone somewhere will have fucked up.
"Thanks for the Good Times" -- sounds like vintage material, though the guess here is that it's a newish song. That's what solid hooks and alluring lyrics'll get you.
"The Unknown" -- 'Nother new one. Reggae shuffle. Baby, let's point this thing into the black/Let's go into the unknown.
If anyone was at last night's show and has decent photos, send 'em to tom dot finkel at riverfronttimes dot com and we'll see what we can do about putting 'em up. Don't forget to let us know how you want 'em credited...
Setlist (songs in italics are from A Perfect Day; * means it's probably a newish song): 1. Penelope Cruz 2. Everything You Love 3. John Lennon* 4. Bullets 5. 2002 6. Hit the Window* 7. Honeypot 8. I'm Good Now 9. Thanks for the Good Times* 10. Bombananza 11. Gold in the Sunset 12. Flinty* 13. Slower Dear 14. Better 15. Let the Light In 16. Bicycle vs. Car 17. The Unknown* 18. Boom Boom Baby 19. Big Blue Sea 20. At the Country Club 21."Walkin' Music" rap / Getting Better 22. 40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet) 23. Weed Out the Weak 24. Tarantula 25. Johnny B. Goode
Bob Schneider (vocal, guitar, keyboard) Clint Wells (lead guitar) Bruce Hughes (bass) Conrad Choucroun (drums) Oliver Steck (keyboard, accordion, trumpet, harmonica, mime) Jay Thomas (steel drum on "Slower Dear," likes to party after the show)
You can buy live recordings of all Bob Schneider's shows going back to 2006 online. New shows aren't added very quickly, but they all get there eventually.