Guided by Voices at the Gothic Theatre, 6-4-14 (photos, review)By Billy Thieme | June 5th, 2014 | 2 comments
How much is too much?
For the typical Guided By Voices fan, the answer to that question is “Never! G-B-V! G-B-V! G-B-V!” Robert Pollard’s enigmatic band had no trouble satisfying a modest group of this ilk at the Gothic Theatre last night with a near-three-hour set — including three massive encores — that was filled with almost too many songs to count.
Touring in support of their latest release, “Cool Planet,” (also, amazingly, their 22nd overall release and sixth since 2012), GBV is starting out their fourth decade as a band (well, minus a few years after 2004). But you wouldn’t know it from their performance.
While Pollard and his band’s “classic lineup” — Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos and sorta-classic drummer Kevin March — may look their mid-50s age walking onstage, they were nothing near it in their act. In fact, they seemed to get younger, more energetic and more exciting as the set wore on.
Of course, it could have been the booze. The stage was centered by a cooler packed with ice and Miller Lite bottles, and the last roadie on the stage deposited bottles of tequila and Crown Royal strategically along with hand towels just before the band walked on. All were consumed by the end of the set.
The performance was a perfect image of GBV’s story: iconoclastic, Neverland-dwelling teenagers, defiant to the last. The band, and particularly Pollard, embodied every rock star stereotype on stage, exhibiting the drinking, the smoking, and the exceedingly loud rock songs that lasted no more than three minutes, max (many were far less). Each tune was welcomed with rousing screams of approval from a loving audience, as were Pollard’s Roger Daltrey antics — high kicking, throwing the mic high into the air and catching it — matched by Mitch Mitchell’s Pete Townshend windmill riffs, and a pretty constant intake of alcohol.
They covered much of their history well, including classic cuts like “Buzzards and Dreadful Crows,” “Gold Star for Robot Boy,” “The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory” and “I Am A Scientist” from the early breakthrough album “Bee Thousand,” as well as a host of songs from their latest, hugely prolific recent history. “Psychotic Crush” and “Teenage FBI” were brilliant, “Cut-Out Witch” and “Littlest League Possible” were epic. And that’s just a small sample of their huge set list. Their three encores were packed mini sets as well, each with at least three songs. Like I said: indefatigable.
Through nearly 50 songs the band heartily emulated the great bands that have driven rock and roll over the past 40 years — the Who, the Ramones, Motorhead, the Stooges — and just about every indie genre, from psychedelic to garage rock to Brit rock. More than anything, Pollard’s tireless group seemed to defy everything, particularly growing old in any sense of the word, and channeled all the best parts of rock ‘n roll while daring us to keep up, as any true rock band should.
John Moore founded The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase in 2001 and served as deputy sports editor, rock writer and theater critic at The Denver Post. He now writes for CultureWest.org and is an in-house journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Follow him on Follow him on Twitter.