Sound on Sound Review: Guided by Voices

Rock scholars avalanche the Dragon’s Lair

Guided by Voices shows remain much like those by the Grateful Dead: No two are alike, and fans follow them religiously (at least online) to see what gems bandleader Robert Pollard might pull from his four-decade inventory.

Robert Pollard (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Recently, the Dayton, Ohio, native’s entire catalog has become fair game, from the group’s early-Eighties bar band incarnation to its lo-fi mannerisms a decade later and new millennial anthems. Regardless of the name under which the material came out, the ever-prolific 59-year-old rock encyclopedia continues mining it with youthful energy. Mic spins, high kicks, you name it.

With little time for fooling around, Pollard and the current version of the band – including veterans Doug Gillard and Kevin March, plus newbies Mark Shue and Bobby Bare Jr. (!) – slammed out the hits underneath the head of the faire’s mainstage dragon, concentrating on tunes from the Nineties but tossing in cuts from side projects Boston Spaceships and Ricked Wicky, and his solo career.

In true classic rock tradition, the band played only a pair of songs from new album Please Be Honest, turbocharging tracks performed on record by Pollard alone. Naturally, fan favorites attracted the loudest sing-alongs. “I Am a Tree” and “Cut-Out Witch” racheted up the adoration, while a pair of songs from GBV’s masterpiece Bee Thousand closed the breathless set on audience overload and steam from the dragon’s nostrils.

Without time to include the song fragments and filler that make the group’s studio albums heavy going, GBV made its best lean and mean, taking melodies drawing on decades of rock tradition and making every note, harmony, and riff resound.

Sound on Sound set list, 11.4.16:

“Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something and 5”
“Game of Pricks”
“The Quickers Arrive”
“Psychic Pilot Clocks Out” (Robert Pollard)
“Tractor Rape Chain”
“What Are All Those Paint Men Digging?” (Ricked Wicky)
“Echoes Myron”
“I Am a Tree”
“Come on Baby Grace” (Boston Spaceships)
“Kid on a Ladder”
“Cut-Out Witch”
“Back to the Lake”
“Tabby & Lucy” (Boston Spaceships)
“Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft” (Robert Pollard)
“The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory”
“I Am a Scientist”

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More Guided by Voices
Friday SOS Record Reviews
Guided by Voices
Please Be Honest (Rockathon)

Neph Basedow, Nov. 4, 2016

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Guided by Voices, Sound On Sound 2016, Robert Pollard, Doug Gillard, Kevin March, Mark Shue, Bobby Bare Jr., Boston Spaceships, Ricked Wicky

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