Midway through “Or What?1?1,” it dawned on me that I’d becoming coming to see Charlie Burton at the Zoo Bar for more than 40 years -- and that song was 35 years old -- and I was still thoroughly entertained by both the man and his music.
Playing Lincoln Exposed, Burton and his latest combo -- appropriately named Charlie Burton & Or What” rambled and rolled through 40 minutes of the veteran rockers greatest hits -- like an edgy take on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Behavior” and more recent material, including a funny, 50s rooted rock ‘n’ roller “Movin’ To Grand Island” that made its performance debut.
Burton no longer rolls around on the floor or crawls into the laps of audience members during his shows. He’s too old for that Iggy-inspired nonsense. But he remains a great performer, flying like a superhero in one song, slapping his head to accompany the lyrics in another.
And those lyrics -- well, they’ve been smart and funny, ripped from his life, headlines and pop culture for years...and they work -- whether old or new -- proving if nothing else there’s room for humor and intelligence in rock ‘n’ roll.
Twenty minutes after Burton left the stage, his ‘80s band took the stage. That would be drummer Dave Robel, who I’ve been seeing at the Zoo for as long as I’ve seen Charlie, and guitarist Phil Shoemaker and bassist Dave Boye -- who now make up ¾ of Shithook.
The world’s greatest live karaoke band, Shithook delivered a set of originals during its Lincoln Exposed set, debuting some new ‘60s guitar popish numbers, complete with Beach Boys-style harmonies.
Between Burton and Shithook, I hit Duffy’s Tavern to catch about half of the set of Trash Kat, the new outfit fronted by Patrick Bradley.
My takeaways after that too-brief sample -- the band really rocks with a great flow and dynamics (somehow that happens in every group in which Mike Keeling plays bass), the songs are solid and Bradley gives them just the right punch with his vocals and guitar. I’ll be seeing Trash Kat again soon.
I likely won’t be seeing Floating Opera again soon -- the pop collective’s Bodega’s Alley set was its first show in 1 ½ years. Hopefully, however, more gigs will be forthcoming -- a band that good needs to play some shows.
The eight-member group spilled off Bodega’s stage onto the floor, creating unusual visuals to accompany Richard Rebarber’s beautifully crafted and arranged music that rocked harder than any time I’ve previously seen Floating Opera.
While I was at Bodega’s, Floating Opera played a handful of songs from its fine new album, “Pop Song on the Elevator Down,” all of them as impressive if not more so live than in recorded form.
Then it was across the street to the Bourbon Theatre Rye Room for Thirst Things First.
The place was so packed that it took some maneuvering to get to a spot where I could see the minions of Lord Boot on the stage in the pit, so to speak. TTF was in fine form, cranking up their off-kilter punk pop party.
Then they delivered the highlight of the night -- a perfectly obscene combination of it’s song “Fat Cat Long Cat” and a video to nail Gov. Pete Ricketts right in the head.
In addition to being pointedly funny, TTF’s shot at Ricketts contributed to a political night at Lincoln Exposed, with Burton repurposing his “Trickle Down” for Trump’s America, I heard Jack Hotel’s reworking of Woody Guthrie’s “All You Fascists Bound to Lose” into a powerful anti-Trump, anti-wall anthem.