Bob Log III lifted a small black plastic bag above his head, its lumpy, light contents swaying slightly side to side.
“Now who wants to make a party drum?” he growled through his space helmet, its curved face shining in the blue stage light.
The audience whooped loudly, raising their beer glasses and outstretched palms as the bag was passed from Long to the crowd, its small black form crumpling, disappearing, and reappearing as audience members pulled at its contents: limp, brightly colored balloons, just waiting to be filled with air.
Moments later, his exact meaning of a “party drum” became abundantly clear. Shiny, newly inflated balloons swayed, drifted and dropped over the audience, popping as they hit a cacophony of pulsing, hopping feet on the makeshift dance floor.
Performing in “the uniform of a circus performer who is about to be shot out of a cannon” whilst transmitting his vocals “through a telephone set-up in his crash helmet,” Log took a packed house on a wild ride Wednesday when he appeared at BAR as part of its midweek Live Band Night. Following New Haven’s own Rusty Things and Arizona-bred The Pork Torta, Log did not settle on taking the audience for a thrill ride. He had a roller coaster in mind, the wild and obscene kind with chipping warnings and yellow caution tape that you sidestep with the promise of a good time.
And boy, did he deliver one. Beyond the costume, itself quite spectacular as it glittered beneath a multicolored strobe, Log’s performance thrived on his all-party-all-the-time attitude, which extended from his radical, indefatigable take on the slide guitar to his use of the “disco banjo,” a funkified, amplified version of the instrument reserved for his mid-show bag of tricks.
Log’s music was stunning (fair warning: it will induce ear ringing for up to 24 hours) for its originality and diversity of source material. The Delta blues are his primary mistress – and unabashedly so – but they do not sleep alone in his bed. Far from it: Wednesday night, he flirted deliciously with punk and rock, creole and even strains of pop or club. George Clinton, Allan Lomax and The Black Keys all met up in his fingertips at some point. Take a listen below (or see the clips above).
Log didn’t stop at a spacesuit and striking slide guitar, though. His sense of audience interaction—albeit plagued with potty humor and plenty of drunken buffoonery—was one of the best that New Haven has seen for the better part of a year. Balloons all popped? No worry—there was a love song to the back of a lady’s head waiting in Log’s arsenal. A missing beer on stage? Pas de problème! He could pick up a massive flashlight, glowing red as an ember, and search for it. In fact, there was nothing in those magical witching hours between 11 and 1 that seemed to phase the artist.
And isn’t that the name of the game?