Bob Schneider at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 5/23/2013
Bob Schneider is better than Paul McCartney.
Okay fine, perhaps the Austin-based singer/songwriter was exaggerating a tad when he favorably compared his ukulele skills to the ex-Beatle (whom he had seen perform the previous night in Austin). The guy may be the Hardest Working Man In Texas Music, but at least he keeps things in perspective.
Last night at the Duck, Schneider was -- by turns -- raunchy, self-deprecating, acerbic, and gloomy; often in the course of the same song. And he has a lot of songs: funky-ish treatments harking back to his Ugly Americans days, mournful odes to love lost, and sillier efforts co-written/inspired by his son.
It's this stubborn refusal to be pigeonholed and perception of aloofness that's contributed to both Schneider's widespread popularity and his tendency to rub people the wrong way.
First off, don't be fooled by seeing an advertisement for a "Bob Schneider acoustic show." Sure, he's up there with a guitar, but maybe one-third of the set will be nothing but the man and six strings. Any other given song will feature delays, piano, trumpet, or sampled steel drums ("Slower Dear"). With anyone else, this "one man band" approach might seem gimmicky (and honestly, he could have ditched some of the vocal effects), but Schneider is accomplished enough of an instrumentalist to make it work.
He started off with little fanfare, getting right into "Good Luck" off 2002's Galaxy Kings. He followed with a discordant effort I didn't recognize, but with lyrics like "And now you are dreaming/And you are dying," it was something of a relief when he ended by saying, "That's the 'Let's get this party started' song!" Things loosened up considerably from there, as Schneider got into the pleasantly raunchy "The Tiger & the Lamb," earning much appreciation from the ladies for lines like, "I wanna do you like you ain't been done before."
Schneider's female following merits some mention, with several clusters of ladies enthusiastically cheering him on, and one determinedly drunk young woman causing enough distraction near the entrance that Rusty himself had to ask her to tone it down. Clearly she wanted Bob to "put the kingdom in her come" last night.