Location: Philadelphia , PA
Venue: Johnny Brenda's
In his highly particular way, R. Stevie Moore is the ultimate cult artist. He’s staunchly dedicated to home recording and DIY distribution. He’s flabbergastingly prolific; besides 30-odd “commercial” releases since 1976, his website lists more than 200 full-length titles available on cassette, CD-R, VHS and Bandcamp. His stylistic range is as sprawling as his output — enfolding jazz, country, thrash punk, metal, hip-hop, techno and innumerable wacky sound experiments and spoken interludes — but his aesthetic remains fundamentally beholden to Zappa, Rundgren, Brian Wilson and The Beatles, which, combined with his unerring, apparently limitless knack for insidiously catchy hooks, makes him precisely the sort of artist whose followers love postulating about alternate realities with improbable, topsy-turvy top-40s. “Why Can’t I Write a Hit?,” which led off last year’s Personal Appeal compilation (a handy single-disc condensation of his oeuvre), finds Moore answering his own (semi-ironic) musical question, in a whispered, self-fulfilling mantra: “The songs are too weird.” But that’s not quite it. Or, OK, that’s occasionally not it. If anything, it’s Moore himself who’s too weird. More simply, it’s just a question of priorities.