Saturday, October 20, 2018

Daily Get Ups: Guided By Voices At The Black Cat In D.C., 101918

At some point last night, I tried to figure out just what it was about Guided By Voices that made the band's fans so loyal. Looking at the fervent, wildly-appreciative crowd, I thought of Deadheads almost, only these guys (and a few gals) were not there at the Black Cat in D.C. last night to hear jams but, rather, Jams! I mean, Guided By Voices are nothing if not slavish messengers of the best riffs in rock-and-roll, with Robert Pollard and his assorted band-mates serving up alt-rock that's full of big hooks.

And while the band was there to ostensibly promote Space Gun from earlier this year, reviewed by me here, Robert Pollard joked about the band having six albums in the can already. Dancing nimbly through "King Flute" and "Daily Get Ups" from the release, the five-piece seemed to be still finding ways to make those tracks so much fun, despite Pollard's insistence on showing us "our new shit", as he said while introducing numbers from next year's Zeppelin Over China or The Rise Of The Ants.

Of these new compositions, it was hard to make out the titles, but one that caught my attention was called "You Own The Night" and it was a mid-tempo churner with bits of prog popping up in the chord changes near the end. Still, however much those new songs charmed, it was the "hits" that the guys in the front were there to hear, with stuff like "Cut Out Witch" positively roaring. On this one, and a few others, the band had the sort of punchy power that The Buzzcocks once had, guitarists Bobby Bare, Jr., and Doug Gillard doing some of the heavy lifting. On other cuts, like on a bouncy "My Kind Of Soldier", and a lyrical "The Best Of Jill Hives", one could hear the rhythmic force of bassist Mark Shue and drummer Kevin March helping out a whole lot too.

"Thanks for coming out tonight. We have no hits!", Pollard joked at one point. But, as he said later, and as the crowd understood, "They're *all* fucking hits!" And, yeah, stuff ike "Teenage FBI" seemed like the best thing since The Beatles, really, with Pollard, ten beers in, holding it together for the song's tight riff-attack.

With Robert Pollard hitting his stride (again) with this line-up of the band, one should really try to see Guided By Voices on this tour. Fans of Space Gun will be happy, as will those of us who have been listening to this band for 25 years. And, if you want sneak-peeks of the numbers from next year's Zeppelin Over China, you'll get those too. A gloriously-affecting "Glad Girls" closed last night's two-and-a-half-hour set at The Black Cat and, once again, it really felt like I was seeing the best band in America.

"And we're alright, and they're alright, and you're alright!"

More details on Guided By Voices and the continuing adventures of Robert Pollard via

[Photos: me and my wife, 10/19/18]