Robyn Hitchcock and Venus 3 at Slims
Had a great time last night at the Robyn Hitchcock and Venus 3 show at Slims. Hitchcock provided a wonderful lineup of old gems like “Balloon Man” as well as new stuff from his album with Venus 3. Venus 3 was a treat to see perform with Hitchcock and features REM’s’ Peter Buck on guitar, Young Fresh Fellows front man Scott McCaughey on bass, and Ministry’s Bill Rieflin on drums. Sean Nelson who led the band Harvey Danger opened the show for Hitchcock and also sang back up vocals during the Hitchcock Venus 3 set.
Hitchcock played guitar and harmonica and served up his typical mixture of interesting folk rock combined with his abstract lyrics. The guitar performances of the band were especially strong. My favorite part of the performance were the wonderful ways that Hitchcock and Buck made their guitars sing together. Buck is terrific as part of Venus 3 and and great musician. Especially with Hitchcock on lead and Buck on rhythm they rang out some fantastical jangly spectacular riffs. “Balloon Man,” perhaps Hitchcock’s most famous song especially rocked with Buck joining Hitchcock for the guitar duty.
They also played a number of songs off of Hitchcock’s most recent release Ole! Tarantula. I especially enjoyed the song Adventure Rocketship. To hear a few tracks from Hitchcock’s new album you can check out his MySpace page here.
Between songs Hitchcock served up a brainy mixture of social commentary, historical fiction, real life vignettes, satire, comedy, drama and a certain degree of absurdity that made the performance that much more interesting. Stories about racing your furry pet like creature up a ladder up the back of your house in Marin County or some odd thing about having to buy Canadian currency from somebody named Canadian Joe I think (or something) in order to get admittance into Slims. Some of this was hard to follow, but I think that was part of the point.
Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger fame and Death Cab for Cutie contributer opened the show with a similar mixture of talk and music — except that his talk seemed less science fiction and more something that ought best go on on a psychiatrist’s couch. A mixture of ballads and angst Nelson reminded me of what you might get if you crossed Randy Newman, Ben Folds Five, Ben Lee, and maybe Smoothdude, this photographer from Brooklyn that I know.
My favorite ballad of Nelson’s was the Harvey Danger tune Pike St./Park Slope. He also showcased songs that he’s performing from an unreleased cover album of Harry Nilsson songs called Nelson sings Nilsson, titled similarly to Nilsson’s own Nilsson sings Newman. Keyboardist and Nelson Sings Nilsson collaborator Mark Nichols accompanied Nelson on these songs. You can read more about this project on Nelson’s Nelson Sing’s Nilsson MySpace page.
Slim’s was a really great place to see the show. An intimate club with great lighting and sound. The show was definitely worth catching and I hope to make it out to see both Hitchcock and Nelson again the next time they come to town. Hitchcock and Venus 3 will perform tomorrow night at Spaceland in Los Angeles and Saturday at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ. If you can make the show it’s a great performance worth checking out.
Thanks again to Mike Magnuson for proving me a photo pass to shoot the show and to Brian Orloff for introducing himself at the show.
To see all of my photos of this show you can check out this set of images that I’ve posted to my Zooomr account here.