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Live last night: Nine innings with Guided By Voices

guided by voicesThe club was open. (Photo by John Masters)

By David Malitz

Missing Thursday’s Guided By Voices show at 9:30 Club was never an option, but I was bummed to miss Game 5 of the Giants/Phillies series. But then I realized, “Hey! A Guided By Voices show is kind of like a baseball game!”

How? In addition to the fact that watching a really good one (say, Wednesday's Game 4, Thursday's GBV show) is still just about the best way to spend a night, here's how:

Both usually last about three hours.

By the end of their run, GBV were playing 3 hour shows. Last night’s gig was a relatively brief two hours, but it was still plenty. The band's lineup on this tour is the “classic” 1992-1996 quintet, so only songs from that era were part of the setlist. It was a parade of two-minute hits, the very-best-of-the-very-best from a band led by a frontman so prolific, he probably wrote a new solo album in the dressing room before the show. “My Valuable Hunting Knife,” “Don’t Stop Now,” “Echos Myron,” “Motor Away” -- these songs are each tightly-packed with air guitar riffs and sing-along-worthy non-sequiturs. I left hearing every song I wanted to hear. Like baseball, two hours can be better than three hours.

Both follow the unwritten rule that fans should consume a lot of alcohol.

The heavy-drinking exploits of both the band and its fans during GBV's glory days became part of the group's lore, but for this reunion tour it seems like main plot point. The ritualistic placement of the tub of Miller Lites (Singer Robert Pollard’s preferred brand) at stage center, constant toasting by audience members -- it was a bit much. Lots of drinking also makes it hard to see every pitch/hear every song. Smart fans need to time bathroom breaks around pitching changes/Tobin Sprout songs.

Robert Pollard's stage moves are similar to a pitcher's wind-up.

Think about it. He’s got the wind-up -- in his case a microphone twirl. It was his favorite move last night, whipping the giant chord like a sideways lasso, roughly 20 times. (TBD's Ryan Kearney had the count at 18 near the end of the show.) He’s got the big leg kick, too. I counted only 13, but I may have missed some. And this is no mere lunge, this is a toes-above-the-head kick. I thought I was watching Juan Marichal on that stage! Okay. I think I’ve taken this particular portion of the metaphor as far as I can.

By David Malitz  | October 22, 2010; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Live last night  | Tags:  Guided By Voices  
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I wanna see Discographically Speaking: GBV and Robert Pollard. Include all EPs and other rare releases. Is Malitz up for the challenge?

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | October 22, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Not even close to being up for the challenge. Maybe we can get Morgan Spurlock to go 30 days of listening to only Pollard/GBV and then he can report back.

Is that a dated cultural reference? If so, I'm sorry.

Posted by: DavidMalitz | October 22, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Dave, smart fans don't dis Tobin Sprout! You're loco in the cabeza if you don't realize the genius of Toby! This reunion tour is too great for bathroom breaks.

Posted by: Riffrandall | October 23, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

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