In the arena of one-man bands, Bob Log III reigns supreme. The press release for his current tour contains a quote from Tom Waits that pretty well sums up the experience of a Log III show: “And then there’s this guy named Bob Log, you ever heard of him? He’s this little kid—nobody even knows how old he is—wears a motorcycle helmet and he has a microphone inside of it and he puts the glass over the front so you can’t see his face, and plays slide guitar. It’s just the loudest strangest stuff you’ve ever heard. You don’t understand one word he’s saying. I like people who glue macaroni on to a piece of cardboard and paint it gold. That’s what I aspire to, basically.”
I had no idea what to expect and when it was all over, I still wasn’t exactly sure what I had just witnessed. Calling a Bob Log show a concert wouldn’t be exactly accurate. It’s an experience. But even that is a bit tame and doesn’t encompass all the “WTF?!” moments of his performance. Throughout the course of his hour-plus set, he tore his old arch top guitar up, working his way up and down the neck of the guitar like a little kid pumping up a super soaker. His between-song banter usually consisted of begging audience members for a little “liquid applause.” At one point he invited a slew of women on-stage to bounce on his knee as he played guitar, kicked a bass drum and modified cymbal, and shrieked into his helmet microphone.
Log III’s six-string talents are clear. He knew his way around the guitar like the best of the canonical bluesmen. While his vocals were unintelligible, it was kind of charming in a weird, quirky way to hear someone so… weird and quirky. Also, there were Log III fans spread throughout the audience, which probably numbered about 75, singing along to every word, so the vocal element was present in a way.
That was one of the most surprising things about the night. There are actually people who enjoy listening to Bob Log outside of the novelty of his live performance. Three songs in and everything began to blend together. There are only so many ways to make a bluesy slide guitar, a bass drum and a couple of samples sound different. He exhausted each of these ways and quickly began reusing and recycling.
The whole shtick began to wear thin as soon as a five-foot, 180-pound woman hopped on stage and mooned and flashed the audience. I was ready to leave at this point, but I stuck around in the name of journalism.
Fortunately, Log’s set only lasted about two more songs. He closed the set by rising up from his chair, walking through the audience and into the back room of Emo’s. All while playing guitar and being patted on the back by his adoring fans.
The crowd inexplicably chanted for more and Log delivered, playing a two-song encore before the Emo’s staff told him he was done and began flipping the lights on and off.
By the end of the night, I was thankful to get out of Emo’s and away from the delta blues maelstrom Log III had cooked up over the last hour-and-a-half. Like I said, to the uninitiated, if you’ve heard one Log III song you’ve heard them all. But his live show is almost worth seeing purely on the novelty of it all. Almost.
Bob Log III performed at Emo’s in Austin on July 10, 2010.