CONCERT REVIEW: Guided by Voices Exceed Expectations at LA's Teragram Ballroom

Written by Jessica Klausing

 Robert "Bob" Pollard photo by Jessica Klausing

Robert "Bob" Pollard photo by Jessica Klausing

 Free beer, drunken yoga, and Jose Cuervo-fueled pep talks are normal occurrences at a Guided by Voices show. This band is in its own league when it comes to entertainment. Front man Robert Pollard pushes musical boundaries with an unusual brand of lo-fi/indie rock and British post-punk. His cynical personality shines through in the honest yet tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The Teragram Ballroom was in for an unforgettable night when these rockers took the stage.  

 Lola G of DTCV photo by Jessica Klausing

Lola G of DTCV photo by Jessica Klausing

DTCV (pronounced “Detective”) were the openers for the second night of the tour in Los Angeles. This French-American band can be compared to The Cranberries meets the Dum Dum Girls side of the punk spectrum.

 French guitarist Lola G and former Guided by Voices guitarist James Greer treated fans to a surrealist psych-rock set jam packed with exuberant melodies. Be prepared that most of their lyrics are in French, but as Lola G says “If you don’t know the language-- you’re learning it now!” 

 James Greer photo by Jessica Klausing

James Greer photo by Jessica Klausing

The two guitarists split the lead vocals between songs; both musicians bring a special kind of style to the dynamic.  Lola G brings the sultry punk vocals on “L.A. Boom!” while Greer’s lofty growl on “Crafting Class” was much appreciated.

The real highlight of the set was Greer slamming his guitar onstage at the end of “Radio City.” Greer had spent most of the song fumbling with his pedals. His casualness of it all still left fans to question whether this was part of the act or not. 

 Guided by Voices photo by Jessica Klausing

Guided by Voices photo by Jessica Klausing

After a solid set from DTCV, Robert Pollard took the stage with his new lineup:  Kevin March (drums), Doug Gillard (guitar), Mark Shue (bass) and the newcomer Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar).

Guided by Voices delved right into 29 years worth of music within two hours! Fans were treated to a 52 song setlist. That’s a Bruce Springsteen endurance level of epic proportions! Robert Pollard is quite the prolific artist with a discography of nearly 2,000 songs.

 Pollard performed a few of the songs from his solo projects, Ricked Wicky and Boston Spaceships. A crowd favorite was Ricked Wicky’s “What Are All Those Paint Men Digging?” Pollard showed off his high kicks and well timed mic twirls to Kevin March’s heavy hits. Many more stage antics were yet to come.

 Bob doing the tree pose during "I Am a Tree." Photo by Jessica Klausing

Bob doing the tree pose during "I Am a Tree." Photo by Jessica Klausing

“I Am a Tree” was unforgettable with Pollard’s tree pose. He held that position through most of the song. What’s more impressive was the amount of stability he had after so many drinks.  This rock star showed no signs of slowing down as he trucked on through the set without much banter.

 The setlist offered a fair mixture of solo work and older GBV music but it seemed like this second reunion tour focused more on the newest album, Please Be Honest. Robert Pollard wrote and played every instrument on this album.

“Kid on a Ladder” and “Eye Shop Heaven” generated some interest thanks to Bobby Bare Jr. and Mark Shue shredding up their instruments. This turned into a friendly competition on who could break a string faster. The hype for the newer songs started to wane around “Hotel X (Big Soap)”. Many were eagerly anticipating more hits from the iconic older albums such as Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes

“Teenage FBI,” “I Am a Scientist” and “Game Of Pricks” won the crowd back over. These songs prompted the loudest sing-a-longs and probably the friendliest mosh pit in history. The venue turned into a trampoline of fans gently bouncing forward to sing with the band.

“Thanks for bearing with the new shit. It’ll become like the old shit unless it sucks then we cut it out,” Pollard stated after a swig from his beloved Jose Cuervo.

 Pollard proceeded to pass his tequila around to those that wanted a shot.  This front man is known to freely share his tequila and pass out extra beer to audience members. Ample booze plays a key component into the band’s entertainment.

 Robert Pollard performs "Tractor Rape Chain." Photo by Jessica Klausing

Robert Pollard performs "Tractor Rape Chain." Photo by Jessica Klausing

 The stoic Robert Pollard becomes brasher after many drinks.

“After we got signed with Matador Records, they recommended that I check in to the Betty Ford Clinic. I’m checking into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, Motherfuckers!” Pollard exclaimed before tearing into another classic favorite, “Tractor Rape Chain.”

The band ended their set with “Cut-Out Witch” only to quickly return for a second encore. The second encore included an ecstatic cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. The night could have easily ended on this high but these guys returned to the stage after popular demand!

 How does one top two amazing encores?

 To an average rocker this would be a ballsy move. Guided by Voices defied the odds with “Game Of Pricks” again. No one seemed to mind for a repeated song as the third encore.  Pollard and company played the song with more intensity the second time. The venue erupted into the chant of “You can never be strong. You can only be free.” This classic hit proved to be the perfect final closure.

DTCV SETLIST:

X- Water

Crafting Class

Bourgeois Pop

L.A. Boom!

Conformiste

Capital Finnul

Astros

Vampire

Histoire Sevile

Big Grey Sun

Radio Drive

 

GBV SETLIST:

A Salty Salute

Expecting Brainchild

Subspace Biographies

Kid on a Ladder

Echos Myron

Eye Shop Heaven

Planet Score

The Quickers Arrive

My Daughter Yes She Knows

Teenage FBI

Mobility (Ricked Wicky cover)

Do Something Real

Smothered in Hugs

Hotel X (Big Soap)

Back to the Lake

The Hand That Holds You

I Am a Tree

Psychic Pilot Clocks Out

Jargon of Clones (Ricked Wicky cover)

The Brides Have Hit Glass

What Are All Those Paint Men Digging? (Ricked Wicky cover)

Game Of Pricks

Question Girl All Right (Boston Spaceships cover)

Poor Substitute (Ricked Wicky cover)

Arrows and Balloons

Shocker in Gloomtown

Come On Mr. Christian

Tabby & Lucy (Boston Spaceships cover)

Piss Face (Ricked Wicky cover)

Make Use

My Zodiac Companion

Miles Under the Skin

I Can Illustrate

Come On Baby Grace (Boston Spaceships cover)

Glittering Parliaments

Motor Away

Tractor Rape Chain

Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft

Please Be Honest

The Official Ironmen Rally Song

I Am a Scientist

Of Course You Are

The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory

ENCORE (1):

Authoritarian Zoo

Fair Touching

Don’t Stop Now

Cut-Out Witch

ENCORE (2):

Not Behind the Fighter Jet

Glad Girls

Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)

ENCORE (3):

Blimps Go 90

Game Of Pricks