Bob Log III
July 18, 2014
About five songs into his set, Bob Log III lifted a shot glass full of Scotch and addressed the crowd. “Who wants to get weird?” he hollered.
Things at the Echo had already gotten pretty weird. Bob Log III is a self-described one-man guitar party who churns out Delta blues on a vintage archtop guitar while playing drums with his feet and singing into an old black telephone handset glued to the glittery silver crash helmet that obscures his face. For this show, he was wearing a tight black jumpsuit spangled with quarters, which made him a look a little like a skinny cross between Evel Knievel and Johnny Cash.
When he started playing, thumping a bass drum with his right foot and a cymbal and tambourine taped to the floor with his left, the beat threatened to drown out his breakneck slide guitar licks and distorted, blues-howl vocals. It was like hearing a techno remix of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The crowd, an unlikely mix of Echo Park hipsters, Inland Empire punks and Hollywood bros, went apeshit.
The song was “Boob Scotch,” one of his most famous numbers because it’s the one during which he encourages young ladies in the audience to dip their boobs into his Scotch. (At the Echo, he didn’t get any takers.) Another of his most famous numbers is “I Want Your Shit on My Leg” because it’s the one during which he invites young ladies to bounce on his knees as he hits his drums. That one nearly started a fight, as three girls rushed the stage and jockeyed for position on Log’s shaky knees.
Log, who’s based in Arizona and whose real name is Robert Logan Reynolds III, has been doing his one-man guitar party routine since the late ‘90s. That’s when the drummer half of his two-man band, Doo Rag, quit in mid-tour, forcing him to improvise a way to play drums and guitar at the same time. Many of his signature elements – the crash helmet, the foot drums, the bouncing chicks on his knees routine – haven’t changed in all that time.
But it still works because there’s something in the combination of primal, blues-based music and corny showmanship that just makes people happy.
The show wasn’t a sellout but it may as well have been. Girls jumped up onstage to dance. Beach balls materialized from somewhere and bounced around the room, along with a bunch of balloons Log had earlier commanded the crowd to blow up. “I came here to party, goddammit,” he declared as he passed them out. In Log’s world, balloons, blues, boobs and Scotch are pretty much all a good party needs.
Underneath the stage gimmickry and thundering beats, Log also happens to be an excellent guitarist, rarely flashy but always forceful and rhythmically on-point. This became especially evident when, for one song, he put aside his archtop and picked up a pretty instrument that appeared to be a cross between a banjo and a resonator guitar.
“I’m gonna play a little disco banjo now,” he announced. “I can only play one disco banjo song a night because if I play more, people start killing each other.” Then he proceeded to absolutely shred on whatever the heck that instrument was. It wasn’t so much disco banjo as a blues-punk hoedown, a collision of Earl Scruggs and Lightnin’ Hopkins, with maybe a little Slash thrown in for good measure.
Sometimes Log crowd-surfs in an inflatable rubber raft, but he skipped that at the Echo, either because he felt the ceilings were too low or the crowd wasn’t quite packed in tightly enough for optimal surfing conditions. But he really didn’t need any additional stagecraft. His 90-minute set, capped off with a guest appearance by a Theremin player, was flashy enough.
“That’s it, man,” he said, after putting away his “disco banjo” and picking up yet another of the many whiskeys the audience bought for him. “I win.” It’s a line he probably uses every night, but coming from a man in a crash helmet drinking free whiskey and bouncing a cute girl on each knee, it’s hard to disagree.
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