As published in L.A. Record:
This experience should have been a disaster: I’d planned to meet up with a friend who never showed. Sleepy openers Sean Nelson & His Mortal Enemies weren’t even close to being my cup of tea, forcing me to spend nearly two hours in the smoking lounge silently watching a series of excruciatingly boring billiards games. During the show, I didn’t recognize one single song in the entire set. But Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3 turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Robyn made his way to the stage sporting a brightly colored, flowery button-down shirt that only an English rocker of his caliber could rock without eliciting laughter and piteous head-shaking. From the moment the band began, I and the rest of the enthusiastic audience were completely entranced. Robyn’s signature sound is an inimitable blend of sophisticated pop melodies and nasally vocals that evoke John Lennon mixed with cheeky, smart and eerily bizarre lyrics that recall Syd Barrett. Aside from Soft Boys stuff, I own a grand total of two Hitchcock albums, so when taking into account his massive creative output—which rivals Elvis Costello—it wasn’t much of a shocker that the only song I recognized in the entire set was a Bob Dylan cover. However, the tight playing of the star-studded backing band (R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Young Fresh Fellows’ frontman Scott McCaughey and Ministry’s Bill Rieflin) and Robyn’s unique vocals, exquisite guitar playing and off-the-wall banter kept me immersed the entire night. I’ll definitely be popping by Sea Level soon to pick up my long-overdue copy of “Ole! Tarantula,” and I’ll definitely be awaiting Robyn’s next visit to our fair city.