What can you say about an artist that celebrates 50 years singing and performing for audiences and does it with style. Well in my books that makes him a legend, and he is one of us, a Torontonian! His performance at a packed house at the Duke on a Wednesday night said it all. I want young artists to read this because Robbie has a stage presence that would inspire all the young talent trying to make it to the next level in this city. Robbie Rox came from an era of creative and obscure art rock, when going for a strange and unusual sound was all the rage. He sits comfortably with other artists from that time period, like Nash the Slash, Laurie Anderson, Graeme Kirkland and Hugh Marsh. These artists helped define a Toronto sound and gave our city an identity.
When you see this man hit the stage, you realize you are falling down a rabbit hole and entering the strange kaleidoscope imagery of Robbie Rox. His style of music could be ratified as Art Rock mixed with community theatre without a budget but built on pure imagination. Where else could you hear lyrics like, “Hair on his palms”, or “you might as well cut off my nuts”! Hell, he even asks the question, “Have you ever been to sea, Billy”? He also teaches us that, “Truth is not found upon an omelet”.
With radical meanderings and philosophical quandaries, it is without a doubt you will find his songs floating in the ozone, like “Highway Patrol”, “Born and raised to be a prick”, and the ever popular,”Dr Collision”, filled with his cerebral mind juice. He even went Jamaican and did a reggae tune named, “Hire an Idiot”.
His topics can be a bit on the dark and twisted side with tongue in cheek or other places (Stop visualizing now). Most of his songs are light hearted storytelling scenarios that come from a place that characters from Breaking Bad could relate to. The song Mexican gigolo seems to just write itself out of one of those episodes. “Dog Language”, was truly an original twist as if that song was sung by The Jetsons dog, Astro. How humane society is that!
Robbie’s band is truly an exceptional group of musicians, because not only do they play solid Rock and Roll, but their theatrical twists and turns add to the visual side to Robbie’s crazy lyrics. It was highly eclectic and offbeat. It sort of reminds me of when Max Webster were adding their flavour to Progressive rock meets Frank Zappa.
Robbie seemed overjoyed at the fact that so many great Toronto musicians came out to celebrate with him this evening. I wish I could name them, but he was rambling names so quickly that I couldn’t write it down fast enough. But, this goes to show you how much Toronto loves this man, because the Duke was packed to the rafters and having a great time.
I hope more artists come out and learn from such an original performer. This man has enriched our city with his wonderful attitude and his idiosyncratic performances over the last 5 decades. The question is, how long will Robbie Rox be around. My guess is he will be here for the rest of his natural life.
Here are some images of Robbie Rox: