Written 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.
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!”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Big Grey Sun
A Salty Salute
Kid on a Ladder
Eye Shop Heaven
The Quickers Arrive
My Daughter Yes She Knows
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)
My Zodiac Companion
Miles Under the Skin
I Can Illustrate
Come On Baby Grace (Boston Spaceships cover)
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
Don’t Stop Now
Not Behind the Fighter Jet
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
Blimps Go 90
Game Of Pricks