Lonely is not a word that came to mind as I entered the Saxon Pub on Mondaynight for Bob Schneider and his Lonelyland show. Lonelyland playedto a packed, standing room only, house on April 3rd (as they do every Mondaynight). This is Schneider's (ala Scabs, Ugly Americans) solo project and he isaccompanied by accomplished musicians with Stephen Bruton on acoustic guitar,David Boyle on keyboards, Bruce Hughes on standup bass (the electric, skinnykind), and Mike Longoria on drums. The band was seated in an acoustic relaxedsetting at this little pub in South Austin.
Schneider's CD, Lonelyland, was released in February and has gottensome attention due to three of his song's being included on girlfriend SandraBullock's movie soundtrack for Gun Shy. With this exposure, Schneiderbecame the first unsigned musical performer to appear on The Tonight Showwith Jay Leno. Not to mention the truckload of Austin Music Awards he tookhome last month·
So, things are happening for Mr. Schneider, but he still shows up for hisweekly gigs at Saxon Pub. He creates an easy atmosphere, going smoothly fromwarm up right into their first song, "2002." Schneider's songs movefrom sensitivity to debauchery, from heartbreak to who cares? with personallyrics and obscure references. A common theme is being stuck in between, as in"Metal and Steel" ("left me here in the twilight zone") and"Big Blue Sea" ("Sometimes I feel like superman, sometimes I'mjust recuperating"). While "Round & Round" has an obvioushook, he added texture by including Bullock's mother Helga, with a sampling ofan operatic aria on the CD version. In this show, bass player Hughes added thehigh brow touches and it worked.
Schneider is a charming host for the evening. He led the band through arecollection of their past five years at Saxon (a joke, I think it's been alittle more than a year?) with each member rising to the challenge with somewitty repartee. Bruton professed a blackout of the experience, Hughes mentionedthe night he was married (to which Bob remarked "whatever happened to thatguy?"), with Longoria citing the night he received his Ph.D (in filthylucre). Boyle just ranted in an undecipherable manner about Guinness and Hughes'gay marriage (also a joke).
Later Schneider played "Madeline" and "Loreena," hissongs with women's names in the title. He is challenged by the audience to singanother. Melissa is thrown out and Schneider dishes up a freestyle "GoddamnMelissa, I Miss Her Melissa." He introduced his "mid 20s breakupsong" saying that in the first two months all you can do is angry stuff (heactually screamed out Goddamn to illustrate). He also told a tale about openingfor Dave Matthews a few years back and how he tried to piss people off withraunchy numbers like "Hanging Out with the Horny Girls."
Schneider mixes styles in the acoustic format, from ballad to rocking. Hisexpertise is with his rapid fire hip-hop delivery which I particularlyappreciate in the acoustic setting. He played for two solid hours, was funny,cute, sexy (although a bit scruffy with the facial hair this night), and seriousall at the same time. They finished up the set, as they do every Monday, bysinging their "It's Time to Go" song, but in the fashion that theaudience picked. Tonight it was Santana, which threw a bit of a snafu toSchneider, who eventually pulled off "Oh, it's time to go· rightnow" to "Evil Ways."
The only error of the evening was in Schneider's failure to tell the audienceto stick around for Superego, in the 10:30 slot. Superego, headed bysinger/guitarist/songwriter Paul Minor, is a local Austin band with a uniqueknack for the power pop song. Various influences are evident, including bossanova, country, rock, Cajun, and everything pop from the '60s - the '90s.This night, Superego was a little light on personnel with second guitarist, JonSanchez, taking a break from the group, and drummer, Kevin Pearson, MIA due toillness. Never mind, Andrew Duplantis, of the Meatpuppets on keyboards and ChepoPena, of several Austin bands, including the Sexy Finger Champs, was all thatwas needed. Minor is the ultimate showman and delivered a performance that wasmore subdued and quiet than his typical Sunday Night Gig at Hole in the Wall.But without percussion, the audience was able to glean the sensitivity ofMinor's lyrics, his use of irony and a clever turn of phrase. From the current OhYes My Friend, Minor played "Eastern Bloc" ("Don't want to put the warmachine in hock, I just want to shut you down in the Eastern Bloc"),"Another Weak Attempt" ("Another weak attempt at bouncing backfrom experience I lack"), and Lagniappe, a song about a strange, Cajun wordthat means gift. From past projects, Minor played "Smokey" (a simple,autobiographical sketch that deals with complex issues such as racism, guncontrol, religion, and relationships), "It Scares Me" and"Breeze." Influenced by a recent KISS show in San Antonio,Minor opened both sets with "Beth" in homage to the Knights in Satan'sService.
The name Superego is itself ironic with the Freudian reference lost onmost (that part of the psyche responsible for conscience and guilt), and manyhave naively ascribed a literal, uninformed context of conceit to the group. Nothing couldbe further from reality, as Minor's songs triumphantly deal with issues of lowself esteem, lack of confidence, disappointment, and rejection. Minor blendsstyles and influences so seamlessly, creating his own fresh, special, pleasantgenre. Oh Yes My Friend is flawlessly produced and includes contributionsfrom many of Austin's musical elite including members of Fastball, Cotton Mather,Dismukes, Meatpuppets·you name it, they're here and they're good.
So what that Minor had to play maracas and guitar at the same time and singwith his guitar pic hanging out of the side of his mouth· so whatthat when they got to the part in "Tighten Up" (the Archie Bell andthe Drells song) when Minor beckoned to "Tighten Up" on the drums, andwe sat in silence for four measures. Anytime you can see Superego is a goodtime. For the hundred or so folks that left after the Lonelyland set, all I cansay is that you missed a rare chance to catch one of Austin's most talentedsongwriters deliver his craft in a most sincere, personal manner.
On That Note, I'm outta here......
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