By Jhoni Jackson
Confession: I discovered the wonderful world of R. Stevie Moore only a few years ago. Weirdo-pop virtuoso Ariel Pink was responsible—he cited him in some story I read. In my exploration of Moore’s enormous catalog, I never considered he’d play Atlanta. I didn’t think his work, which includes avant garde experimentalism to spoken word to AM pop to psych-tinged rock, was doing any sort of traveling these days. But the outsider icon, now in his ‘60s, is passing through this Sunday. And you absolutely cannot miss him. Here are five reasons why.
1. He championed home recordings before anybody else.
Under the eccentric Nashville native’s belt are more than 400 recordings—all of them created at home, beginning in the ’70s. For reasons ranging from introverted eccentricity to stubbornness to feeling stuck in his hometown, Moore opted out of the major-label game from the get-go. He switched to CDs in the ‘90s but mostly his catalog was created on tape. Lo-fi is his still his thing, however. If you’ve paid even the smallest measure of attention to what’s going on in independent music, you’re aware that it’s pretty much everyone else’s thing now too. And although Moore isn’t solely responsible, he is inarguably one of the original settlers in lo-fi land.
2. Moore is an accidental visionary.
Bands like Guided By Voices, the Residents and, of course, Ariel Pink count Moore as an influence. There’s no way he could have predicted David Keenan’s coining of the term “hypnagogic pop,” but Moore is considered one of its pioneers. His most revered album is likely Phonography, released in ’76, and it ushered in a new wave of sound, albeit more than 40 years later and entirely inadvertently.
3. His live show is entertaining, to say the least.
Not only will you be treated to older gems “She Don’t Know What to Do With Herself” and “I Like to Stay Home” as well as newer tunes like “Pop Music,” but also it’s likely you’ll see some puppetry, uncomfortable stage conversations and audience participation.
4. He’s underappreciated, but keeps going.
I’m not saying you should feel bad for Moore because his music never blew him up to millionaire status. He’s gotten press from the biggest publications for years but has yet to achieve the notoriety he deserves. Sure, most bands never hit that high. But Moore’s kept chugging along all these years with virtually no breaks in productivity despite that. The same can’t be said for most artists.
5. His cult following continues to grow.
There’s still room for you.
Watch the video for “Play Myself Some Music,” from 1986’s All Well and Good, below. Then dive headfirst into his extensive collection of work via his Bandcamp.
R. Stevie Moore plays the EARL Sunday, Oct. 7, with TV Dinner and Hologram.