Life is a carnival of the bizarre. There are probably better, more erudite ways of describing it, but few more appropriate. When you really think about the various ways we kill time between entry and exit, the awful strangeness of it dawns in ways few are fit to see, fewer still to fully embrace.
But there are those precious few gems of humanity who bear witness and see fit to take hold of this grim procession. They see existence for what it really is — which is what you make of it. And what they make of it is something equal parts ludicrous, grotesque and fantastic.
So when you see a man in a jumpsuit and full-face helmet rigged up with a telephone receiver come barreling down the honky-tonk stairs in a lifeboat while beating away on a hollow-body guitar, don’t get out of the way. Jump right in there with him. And as long as you live, you’ll never forget what he taught you.
Photo courtesy of Bob Log III
If that last bit seems a bit out of left field, well, maybe your not ready for the one-man Delta blues gonzo slide guitar extravaganza that is Bob Log III.
Born in Tucson, Arizona and now based out of Australia, he’s played just about every backwater and bustle from here to there and back again over the past 20-plus years. Ask him for tour stories and you’ll get a sampling of the day-to-day madness that is his life for six months out of the year.
“A girl peed on my leg mid-song in Belgium. A man tried to chew my knee in Wollongong. Somebody dressed as a rabbit had a conniption in Auckland. In Omaha a girl tackled me so hard I was limping for days. But it was okay. I think it was her birthday,” Log told the Taipei Times.
On the surface Log’s music might seem like barely-controlled chaos, and there’s some truth in that. But he’s one of those rare individuals who grasps the brain-numbing banality of beauty and plays with the grit of imperfection under his fingernails. This weekend the Bob Log whirlwind blows back into Taipei for the Tiger Mountain Ramble.
There are a million acts out there who can put you to sleep with pretty. It’s not often one comes along that can set your soul on fire with a double-distored dose of ugly.
“I love to play the perfect mistake,” he says of his signature style and general approach.
“Put it this way, if you read any rock book, any tour book, any band, what are the stories? The only good stories are when something goes wrong. There is not a chapter that says, ‘We played in Tulsa, everything went great, we went to bed.’ No! Boring! The interesting fun parts of any musical adventure story are the mistakes. When things go wrong, that’s the story. That’s the fun. I am chasing the happy wrong,” he says.
The happy wrong. For most people it’s something abstract, worse still something antithetical to existence itself. For them there is no happy wrong. Only glorious right.
The problem with “right” is that all too often there is only one, whereas there are an infinite different varieties of wrong. Therein lies the real exploration — the true introspection. The accurate reflection of what we are.
So if and when things do go ‘wrong’, such as a recent show in which his inflatable dinghy was stolen (hence the earlier boat reference), that just means Log is doing things right. That is to say, doing things wrong. Doing things his way.
“If someone steals my boat, or unplugs my stuff, or trips over my drums, or crawls inside my drum or grabs the kick drum mic and runs around making animal noises in it, I can only feel that I have been doing my job correctly.
“I am attempting to make a room of people go apeshit with the power of my guitar. That is my purpose. Sometimes people go too apeshit and me or my stuff gets broken. But that just means I’m doing the guitar right.”
Expect a heavy dose of the expected/unexpected from the man who knows only one way to play it, that is fast and loose, and keeps an open mind to the whims of the crowd.
“If, say, someone lights their nipples on fire, or decides to climb or eat the curtain, or say someone dressed as a pirate decides to start licking the mic cables, I do believe those might be spur of the moment decisions on their part,” Log said.
Bring it on.
■ Tiger Mountain Ramble Outdoor Music Festival (2015虎山音樂祭) tomorrow from 2pm to 10pm at Miculture Foundation Tiger Mountain (微遠虎山), 186-1, Lane 221, Fude Street, Taipei City (台北市福德街221巷186-1號). Tickets are NT$500 in advance and NT$600 at the door, available at Vinyl Decision, KGB Kiwi Gourmet Burgers and Toasteria Cafe.
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