I first saw Rob Crow at the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. He looked a bit like a demented Santa Claus in cargo shorts and a longshoreman’s cap. He was playing bass and singing backup for Nick Reinhart (as part of a touring incarnation of Nick’s band Dishevelled Cuss).
Okay, so maybe I couldn’t really pull off the demented Santa bit. Neither my beard nor muffin top have fully developed. Back to the point. Rob Crow was playing bass and singing backup for his opening act. And it was a pretty long set. Rob (as I like to call him without his permission) put such energy and joy into his playing that you would think he was an “up and comer”, feeling like he was on the verge of making it big. As in part of the band, not just helping out on tour…
On the contrary, Rob is already part of a somewhat successful band named Pinback, which is the reason I was at the show in the first place. When Dishevelled Cuss departed and Pinback took the stage, Rob was on guitar, with his partner in crime Zach Smith on bass. And they played the crap out of an extremely tight set of tunes to the enjoyment of a couple of hundred of mostly middle aged math rock enthusiasts. Didn’t know there was something called math rock? Me neither, thanks Sirius XM Indie Channel for the education!
What struck me the most was the passion. Rob played with passion, even on a song like “AFK” from Summer in Abbadon, which has probably been Pinback’s go-to encore for about twenty years.
Rob’s creativity can be seen in the staggering number of projects he is involved with – as a songwriter and skilled musician on guitar, bass and more. Besides playing with his opening acts, and probably even busking on the street corner in San Diego – he is part/all of Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, Creedle, Physics, Thingy, Heavy Vegetable, Optiganally Yours, Pinback and more. Hundreds of songs in different genres, amazingly enough.
He even spent his time in lockdown putting together a great album of acoustic covers (Everybody’s Got Damage) and helping raise money for Black Lives Matter. Both he and Zach Smith are consummate do-it-yourselfers and with home studios they are making good use of the time away from performing venues.
I have no doubt that simply making a living drives him as well, but there are easier ways to do that. Or maybe his particular gifts as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist make this an easy way to make a living? Although we are on a first name basis I have never met him, maybe some day I will ask him…
I want to find something that drives my own passion and creativity in a relentless way. Not in an unhealthy way, mind you. As long as I can go to bed by 8 pm, have coffee with my beautiful wife in the morning and walk my dog on his chosen schedule – the creative juices can flow around the edges. Maybe if I keep at writing long enough I can bang away on my keyboard like a demented Santa Claus, smiling all the while.