I've been having a hard time getting my head around Tuesday's Guided By Voices show at First Avenue. Not that it wasn't great - it was. But in these reviews, I also try to find a hook to write about, figure out what it all means. I haven't been able to do with my GBV experience.
Like I said, the show was great. The band was in fine form and absolutely rocked. Robert Pollard was in fighting form, drinking of course but not hammered. Also he was in great shape and it looks like he's lost a bunch of weight which was nice because a few years ago it looked like Pollard's love of booze was going to make him a sad casualty of alcoholism.
Forty songs, three encores, two hours of music in front of aging, mostly male, hipsters will make for a fun evening regardless but when the band is Guided By Voices and the fan adoration is off the charts, well then you're talking something special. One of my favorite scenes was during the song Smothered in Hugs. This is a slower tune and there were two, large bearded guys in their thirties absolutely enthralled. They were singing at the top of their lungs complete with hand motions and absolute adoration in their eyes. It was like something out of a Taylor Swift concert but instead of 14 year old girls it was 30 year old dudes.
Since the band was the "classic line-up" most of the songs were from the Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Propeller, Under the Bushes Under the Stars discs. It's hard to talk about a highlight since all the songs were fan favorites with solid performances. Of course Game of Pricks was a particular favorite of mine (see video below). City Pages also had a real nice review (plus slide show).
So I don't really have a hook for the show but maybe that's the intent. Guided By Voices has never been about hooks or meaning. It's just been about rock and roll, drinking beer, and having fun. And we had that in spades on Tuesday night at First Avenue, which if you think about it is really all you need.
Below is a video from Tuesday of Game of Pricks and Smothered by Hugs and here is a nice slide show as well from Steve Cohen.