R. Stevie Moore, Tropical Ooze, Brain Idea, John Bellows | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

R. Stevie Moore, Tropical Ooze, Brain Idea, John Bellows Soundboard

When: Wed., June 22, 9 p.m. 2011

Now 59 years old, R. Stevie Moore has made about 400 albums, releasing most of them himself, at first on cassette or vinyl and more recently on CD-R or as downloads; through his website you can order a copy of practically anything he's recorded, all the way back to the late 60s. But even if he'd stopped after his classic 1976 debut album, Phonography (which British label Recommended reissued on CD last year), he'd still be considered a groundbreaker. The warped pop of Phonography created a new paradigm—bedroom pop, lo-fi, DIY, whatever—that would become hugely influential in indie-rock circles over the next decade. (His apparent refusal to edit his often uneven work has been influential as well, with less happy results.) A Nashville native whose father was a longtime session musician for Elvis Presley, Moore wrote and recorded what became Phonography in 1975 and 1976, using reel-to-reel tape machines. The album mixes gorgeous, multilayered post-Beach Boys pop gems like "I've Begun to Fall in Love" and "California Rhythm" with fake commercials and jokes like "Explanation of Artist," where he talks about himself while taking a leak. His voluminous output includes curious excursions into one genre after another, but running through it all are several common threads—strong melodies, raw sound quality, and geeky humor a la the Residents (early champions of his work) and Frank Zappa. Moore rarely performs, and he visits the midwest even less frequently. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, this is his first world tour, and it's being filmed for a documentary. With any luck it won't be his last, but he's bitterly critical of the music business and disillusioned by his own obscurity. As he told Bomb magazine in 2007, "It's really harder than ever for me to travel without some sort of supporting chauffeur or helping entourage. Otherwise, I still dig doing it, when it's right. But not for long, that is, after the same public indifference sets me straight and I ultimately decide once again it's not worth all the trouble for a room of 10 to 20 people." —Peter Margasak

Price: $8, free with RSVP at rsvp@emptybottle.com

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