Friday, March 30, 2012

Bob Schneider - The Madness of King Pancho

I’m picking up this blog again after an unintentional hiatus. It must be The Madness of King Pancho propelling me toward an entry on Austin musician Bob Schneider.

Let me say first, I’m not attempting to critique an entire opus of work on this guy. He’s been around too long, and like a musical Voldemort, he has killed and then split his soul too many times to me to run down all his damn horcruxes. (That’s a job for another woman – one that will smile as she cleans the toilet he never flushes.)

So, I’m talking about the Bob I’ve discovered on my limited journey. I’ve seen him live twice, and the only album I own is Lovely Creatures. (As I recall, it came with the house, like the garbage can and recycle bin. It’s filed under “Austin Pop” in my collection.) I follow him on Twitter, and he was on my Facebook friends list. (WAS… now I’ve got someone who looks like Bob but goes by the moniker King Pancho. Isn’t that soooo cute, just like a fuzzy kitten?)

I read Bob’s blog before I saw him live. It’s a voyeuristic view into a twisted reality, full of insightful poetry and disturbing images. Something tells me that if a cute fuzzy kitten appeared in Bob’s blog, it would have a giant red penis and large breasts, it would be an anal rapist. Reading lines like:

you are in your car
it is under the lake
at disneyworld and
sadness is filling
up the black inside
of your whole head

intrigued me immensely. It left me full of “Yes, I’ll have another thanks, as long as it’s not a kitten.”
I first saw him live at The Saxon Pub about two weeks ago with Lonelyland. I only caught about half the set, having completely failed to get into the music or feel connected to the experience. Unwilling to give up easily, I bought a ticket to his next StageIt event.

StageIt is a strange microcosm of a standard music venue. Bob seemed torn between the implied intimacy of performing in dark corners of someone’s abode, and the formality of a presumably recorded internet performance. It appeared from the comment feed that most of the participants were female, and it soon became apparent many were females of the “ridiculous” and “bat-shit crazy” variety. They made witless attempts at meaningful eye contact by text. Oh, the things, gaping with longing, people will type, secure in their belief the anonymity of the internet will cloak their public identities.

However, with a better view and a drink in hand, I fell easily into Bob’s groove. This was a much better picture of the guy behind the guitar, but like a twisted coin, it was also a view of Bob the Frat Boy. He made sophomoric attempts at humor by discussing the possibility of doing the show while taking a shit, and weren’t we glad we didn’t have smell-o-vision. Did you know his songs about his penis get airplay? Isn’t that funny? I was nonplussed by Bob the Frat Boy, but I was nothing but grateful at the lack of smell-o-vision as those virtual panties whizzed by my head.

The best moments of the show came in between the attempts at humor, when he looked away from the audience; as the curtain would ruffle in the breeze, I would catch small glimpses of a human operating the controls.

If your only experience with Bob Schneider is 40 Dogs, you miss the complex and unrepentant man behind the guitar. He sees the world with a sharpened focus, using eyes that pin the wings of your darkness to a wax mat. His art, poetry and music are the magnifying glass, showing the world your innermost secrets: your prejudice, your sentimentality, your lust, your venality, your violence, and his penis. Because we all know, at the heart of this universe where we wonder what the fuck it’s all about, the answer will somehow involve Bob’s penis.

I really like his music. He’s a very talented songwriter, poet and musician. Have I missed the point?

Here is Mainstream Bob, somewhere between his "humungoid giant star" phase and his "hanging out with Ravi Shankar" phase:

This was my favorite song of the StageIt performance:

This is Bob, somewhere between his "hanging out with Ravi Shankar phase" and his "carboydrate, sequined jumpsuit, young girls in white cotton panties, waking up in a pool of your own vomit, bloated purple dead on a toilet" holding his penis phase: