Show Review: Guided By Voices @ Emos (9.24)

There’s something special in a Guided By Voices performance, something that brings out hordes of old fans desperate to see their favorite front-man take the stage, bottle of beer in hand.  For all intents and purposes, the set at Emo’s was exactly what was asked for, with opener Detective doing a good job warming the audience up before our heroes took to the stage.

If you’d done your research, you’d know that James Greer, the man at the helm of LA’s Detective was once a member of Guided By Voices.  You could tell by his stage banter that he’d been well rehearsed in how to win over an audience, repetitively proclaiming that each song was about “fucking shit up.” They had a true 90s alternative sound, which didn’t really change too much when Greer’s female counterpart, Guylaine, took over the vocal duties, though she did provide a different sort of bounce to the group’s tunes. Unfortunately, the whole crowd hadn’t quite filed in at this point, so they might have missed out on making as large an impact as they could have, considering the solid tunes they put fort.

It’d be easy to talk about Guided By Voices in terms of what they played and how it sounded, but I don’t want to dabble that too much. Surprisingly, they played a great deal of their favorite numbers from Class Clown Spots a UFO before really foraging into their pantheon of classic hits. I get it though, as they’re touring, in the traditional sense, for the first time in a long while. Their later part of the set was all hits, including their short and sweet ballads that really hit home for this listener.  What struck me though, was the group themselves, and the audience watching the band they revere.

Seeing Guided By Voices is not a casual thing.  Robert Pollard might chain smoke and booze like your alcoholic uncle throughout the set, but he’s going to give you everything he’s got, and you’re going to thank him later.  At his age, those high kicks and his ability to push a set near the two hour mark continue to amaze me. I can’t even pull that off now, and I think he’s got almost 30 years on me: impressive. And for all his antics, the audience always eats it up, and it’s not your typical audience either.

For one, the scene is largely dominated by males, but many of those probably saw me wading through the crowd and shook their head at the young whipper-snapper.  You see, Guided By Voices fans never go away, and their dedication is unlike anything I’ve seen before.  Seeing men in their late 40s pounding whiskeys and having a personal conversation, musically speaking, with Pollard is something you won’t see at just any other show.  When the hits finally started rolling, or the classics I should say, the beer was being splashed all over Emo’s, and the roar of approval and waving hands never ceased.  It’s something very few will truly understand, but if you do, then your life will be better for having been at Emo’s on Tuesday night.

There are a few more pics at the photo site

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