bobschneider.jpg
Dave Lake
Bob Schneider

The Tractor

Wednesday, Feb. 23

In the movie of Bob Schneider's life, he'll be played by Paul Rudd. Not only do

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Bob Schneider's Solo Set Warms Up a Cold Night at the Tractor

bobschneider.jpg
Dave Lake
Bob Schneider

The Tractor

Wednesday, Feb. 23

In the movie of Bob Schneider's life, he'll be played by Paul Rudd. Not only do the two men share a passing resemblance, but Schneider's live show Wednesday at the Tractor was a lot like most of Rudd's films: funny, charming, and full of heart. You just sort of root for the guy because he's so darn likable.

Schneider, a Texas troubadour with jam-band roots, has emerged from the Austin music scene as one of its most versatile songwriters. He's also one of its most popular, having sold a whopping 25,000 copies of his Lonelyland album at a single record store.

Wednesday night was supposed to bring the impending doom of Snowpocalypse 2011. But the snow didn't fall until after Schneider's set, and even the threat of bad weather couldn't keep his fans from packing the Tractor, which was lined with chairs in the showroom and overflowed with standing showgoers into the bar.

A bearded Schneider sat onstage, alone with his guitar, in a blazer and jeans, with a variety of pedals at his feet and an energy drink at his side. He initially followed a set list, but ultimately let the crowd steer the show by accommodating their requests, occasionally dropping in something he wanted to play too.

Schneider was also aided by a keyboard and sampler, which he used to record himself at the beginning of a song, then sang and played over the loops he'd just created. It was an effective way to add an additional layer of sound to a solo acoustic set.

Schneider's sense of humor was front and center during his performance, as he told stories and interacted with the crowd between songs. This sometimes made for awkward transitions, however, as the singer/songwriter had to shake off whatever silly topic he was riffing on as he prepared to tackle a heavy song about a failed relationship or other emotional subject. But this is really Schneider at his core: He's a juxtaposition of emotions and styles, segueing from folk songs to funkier ones, from songs about gay truckers to God.

Schneider was at ease all by himself onstage, a confidence honed through years of touring and a weekly Monday-night residence in Austin. And like Rudd, Schneider may not be the most famous purveyor of his craft, but he's certainly among the most admired, both by his peers and by his fans--both because of his versatility and the sheer amount of heart he puts into his work. His new album, A Perfect Day, will be released in April.

Emerald City salute: Schneider swapped in "Seattle" for just about every city he mentioned in his songs, eliciting woos from the crowd with each substitution.

Overheard during the show: The loud talker who didn't realize the entire room could his entire conversation during the night's quieter songs.

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