Ladies and Gentlemen, Beatle Bob!
September 19, 2004 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Ladies and Gentlemen, Beatle Bob!
With today being the last day of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, I thought it might be a good time to shine the spotlight on rock and roll gadfly "Beatle" Bob Matonis, who, as per his habit, made the scene like sex machine, shaking his vintage-clad booty back stage (and on stage) at numerous sets this weekend. Though he's actually from St. Louis, Beatle Bob makes it to gigs all across the country, and seems particularly fond of South by Southwest, where his presence can pretty much guarantee you picked the right showcase to attend. Over the years, I've seen Beatle Bob on literally dozens of occasions. Have you had the chance to catch this oddball rock mascot in your town?
posted by Gilbert (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Somewhere along the line it became more important for him to actually be there than it was to experience whatever music was giving him."

That's awfully sad.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:33 PM on September 19, 2004

I don't think I've ever seen this guy, but back in college I dated a certifiable Beatlemaniac (I'm borderline certifiable myself, so it wasn't much of a sacrifice) and we'd go hang out at Strawberry Fields in Central Park on Lennon's birthday and the anniversary of the assassination. We'd drink beer , spoke pot, hang out and sing songs.

There were all kinds of characters like good ol' David Peel and others, including a guy with a circa '64 Beatle mop and collarless Cardin suit who'd play and sing along. A little nutty, sure, but of all the things to attach yourself to, you could do a lot worse. As John himself said, whatever gets you through the night.
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2004

Beatle Bob is awesome. See him perform in the Guided By Voices video for My Kind of Soldier.
posted by Quartermass at 5:15 PM on September 19, 2004

In a weird way this guys fixation points to how big a sway the Fab Four still have over global popular culture.

I remember in college I had a mutual flirtation thing going on with this black girl who was heavily into Afrocentricity, militant hip-hop and stuff like that*. Naturally we disagreed on a lot, but one day I introduced her to my Beatlemaniac (by then) ex and we spent the better part of a few hours raving about A Hard Day's Night and debating the virtues of the various Beatles (I'm a John man, my ex digs Paul, and the Afrocentric girl was into George). My mom, whom I have somewhat strained relationship with, found my copy of Sgt. Pepper and pulled out the cutouts of military hats and mustaches and talked about how her and her classmates at Vermont Backwater Catholic Girls College used to play the album and march around the room with the mustaches on their lips. My dad, a New York doo-wop and Elvis guy, said that he hated them back in the day because all the girls in his neighborhood loved them and he was jealous**. But this just underscores how, love 'em or hate 'em, the Beatles demanded a response. I recently met a guy in his mid forties, a street hardened ex-doper who told me that at 7 years old, he was converted into a music fan by a 45 of "I Saw Her Standing There."

* her mom was a Circuit Court judge in New Jersey, which lead to more debates, but that's a whole other story.

**my folks still had a couple Beatles comps on the shelf when I was a tyke, so I'm guessing it wore off.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 PM on September 19, 2004

Beatle is (go figure) a fixture here in St. Louis. Casual clubgoers think he's a hoot, but most people who are part of the scene can't stand him. He'll claim to be on the "standing" guest list at clubs, and unsuspecting door-people will let him in. He's been known to pilfer CD's from the local vintage-and-new music shop, and merch from band tables. He claims to be a writer for magazines that haven't existed in 20+ years, or to be a DJ at the local community radio station, to get into concerts, backstage, or get free merch. He takes up a lot of space dancing, and is unapologetic when people who *paid* and got there before him "get in his way" dancing.

He's called Beatle Bob because of his bad haircut.
posted by notsnot at 5:51 PM on September 19, 2004

If I never see Beatle Bob at another show until the year 2051, it'll still be too soon.

My favorite B.B.-related quote, from Derek Huston, a member of the New Orleans band The Iguanas, reacting to Bob's habit of jumping up on stage with them and stealing the limelight, frequently at inappropriate moments:

"He was harshing on my mellow."
posted by chuq at 6:14 PM on September 19, 2004

You're in Louisiana, chuq? I would certainly agree that BB is agressively gaming the systems, as per notsnot's comments, I just wonder how far the schtick has gotten him.
posted by Gilbert at 6:40 PM on September 19, 2004

"He's called Beatle Bob because of his bad haircut."

I thought it was because of his speedy metabolism.
posted by sharksandwich at 7:50 PM on September 19, 2004

Just saw him onstage with Cake at ACL Fest. Every SXSW we have a little chat at the Bloodshot Records party at Yard Dog. I love that freaky guy.
posted by shecky57 at 7:55 PM on September 19, 2004

I have to admit... when he did his thing at one of my band's shows during sxsw in 2002, I thought it was pretty rad. Since then, I've heard many people disparage his whole "thing". I'm not sure why though. Seems harmless enough. That GBV video with him in it is great by the way.
posted by swamptiger at 8:08 PM on September 19, 2004

He is indeed a pox on any show he attends. Sure, the first time or so you see him it seems fun in a quirky sort of way. then after you see him enough times you notice he will work his way right up front and "dance" whacking anybody that gets in his way with his flailing arms. Then you will see him shake the hand of somebody in the band and then hold onto it while prattling on and on until the guy has to phsically pull away.
I would agree with everyone that he might be nice to have around, if only he wasn't totally unconcerned with anything but self promotion. The thought of how his actions might impact others doesn't even seem to cross his mind. Notsnot, 2051 would indeed be too soon, let's push it out to 3051, ok?
posted by jester69 at 8:10 PM on September 19, 2004

Oops, I meant to say the thing about 2051 to chuq.However, I get the feeling notsnot would be with me on the 3051 thing in any event.
posted by jester69 at 8:12 PM on September 19, 2004

I'm a fan. I think the naysayers are just jealous that they can't bust a move with as much style.
posted by spilon at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2004

He broke out on the stage during the Franz Ferdinand show at ACL, Friday, and was flailing around in the background. They paid him no mind one way or the other. He has energy, I'll give him that. Earlier that day, Sloan mentioned him as their buddy, so I guess someone likes him.
posted by picea at 8:38 PM on September 19, 2004

I was walking by the Austin Ventures stage Friday and saw this guy and snapped a pix. Is the guy on the right Beatle Bob? He totally didn't seem to fit with the other guys in the band.
posted by birdherder at 8:43 PM on September 19, 2004

Yep, that's him, officer.

When I first started going to shows (of friends' bands), if Beatle showed up, it was a sign that you'd "made it" in the St. Louis scene - BB thinks your band is worth seeing! For the longest time (years after that RFT article linked in the FPP), I thought he was cool, would buy him a Coke when I saw him. Then I started volunteering down at KDHX, the studios of which he's not allowed in anymore, because disks kept disappearing. I heard a number of stories, but withheld judgement.

Here's the story that mad me an ex-fan of BB: Friend of a friend (I met her once) was driving BB home from a show (or rather, driving him to drop him off at an intersection, where he disappears, so no-one knows where he lives). An oncoming car makes a left turn into their car. Cops show up, take statements from the drivers - both claim innocence, so BB would be the tiebreaker. He refuses to make a statement exonerating someone who was nice enough to drive him home, just so he wouldn't have to say where he lives. That's shitty as hell.
posted by notsnot at 8:57 PM on September 19, 2004

By the way, birdherder, I believe the band is Dale Watson (tattoos), with Jim Stringer (western shirt) sitting in on guitar.
posted by notsnot at 8:58 PM on September 19, 2004

St. Louisans also know that Bob's a kleptomaniac. He's probably banned from more retail establishments than not. He's a name-dropper, self-promoter, liar, and asshole. Touring acts beware: he'll scam merch from you with nonexistant radio shows and columns, and he'll never pay to see the show. Avoid.
posted by droob at 10:32 PM on September 19, 2004

notsnot is spot on. I work at a performing arts center on and off through the year and he has invited himself backstage during a few of our shows. No, you can't go on the stage. Stay out of the dressing rooms, etc.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:12 AM on September 20, 2004

He's a regular at the Chapel Hill, NC Sleazefest and is sometime the MC for a night or two. I haven't been for a while, but I seem to recall last time they kept him onstage, away from the bands.
posted by bendybendy at 10:53 AM on September 20, 2004

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