Saw Robyn Hitchcock perform in my neighborhood last night. I love it when Brooklyn delivers. It was an all-request show, apparently, which in indie rock terms should be called a "Show Everyone One How Much You Know About The Obscure Nooks and Crannies of My Back Catalog at the Possible Expense of Enjoying a Cohesive Concert." If you've ever been to all-request shows, you'll know they are the wet dreams of rock nerds who like to yell out the most impossibly stupid b-sides and you - played - it - once - twelve - years - ago - in - bristol - and - guess - what - i - was - there - and - now - it's - like - we're - communicating - with - each - other cover songs. You'll hear stuff like, "Play, 'Sloop John B.!" and then, if the artist plays the song or even acknowledges it, a couple members of his bootleg swap club will snicker knowingly and whoop. A concert for two!
People asked Robyn to play that ridiculous song about trilobites – which is the equivalent of asking They Might Be Giants to play "Triangle Man," but Hitchcock indulged this request, and many others, with a bionic level of charm. He filled the spaces between songs with strange but completely articulate non-sequiturs about nudity, Dirty Harry, and man's complete arrogance in naming extinct species against their will. As he flipped through requests, his ability to conjure up lyrics and chords and recall some of the more surreal tongue-twisters in his discography was really impressive and, thankfully, there were some reasonable people in the audience so we were all lucky to hear songs like "She Doesn't Exist Anymore" and "Mexican God" instead of just a set of nudge-nudge-wink-wink rarities. Not that there's anything wrong with rarities but I just have a hard time imagining getting any real enjoyment out of a 90-minute musical inside joke, even if I'm in on it.