Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices

with Elf Power

Cotton Club, Atlanta GA • September 8, 1999

“Don’t call me a fucking rock star.”

Robert Pollard thus made his entrance from under the “The Club is Open” sign to the “GBV GBV GBV”-chanting crowd at the Cotton Club, a sold-out crowd made up 100% of indie-cred/eyeglass-wearing white boys.

He quickly followed with:

“Unless you mean it.”

And the fans of the Dayton, Ohio schoolteacher-turned-pop-icon meant it.

From the opening “Don’t Stop Now” from 1996’s Under the Bushes Under the Stars , Pollard and the latest version (of possibly 51 incarnations) of Guided By Voices unabashedly rocked. Heavy on cuts from the new album, Do The Collapse , the show never lagged, and featured the best live club sound in recent memory. Stripped of the original recordings’ lo-fi shortcomings, songs like “Cut-Out Witch,” “I am a Tree,” and others from GBV’s back catalog soared, and the new material, which is anchored by the power-rock chording of guitarist Doug Gillard, expanded live into sums far greater than the component parts. Pollard still dances around like a heavyset, slightly tipsy, chain-smoking high school teacher, throwing out rock star stances amid washes of smoky light. Sure, he looks goofy, a cheerleader for a team — indie, lo-fi music — that revels in its hipness and hatred of all things popular, but you get the feeling he doesn’t subscribe to the theory. Bringing in former Car Rik Ocasek to produce the new record is a move to the mainstream. Replacing the tinny, AM-radio sound of some early releases with the growling synths of “Teenage FBI” and such is another, and it all works. It has focused the band’s attack to the point that a live show is now an almost breathless affair — one perfect, hook-filled pop moment after another, with space and power, grand and epic.

The show was opened by Athens’ Elf Power, fresh off similar duty for REM earlier that week. On record, they benefit from multi-tracking and such — live, the hesitant vocals and obtrusive “sound effects” detract from their sound to such an extent that it’s almost painful to witness.

The next few GBV shows will be twin bills with Cheap Trick — now that’s a pairing made in heaven…

When acts such as Korn and Kid Rock are considered state of the art live rock, it’s refreshing and invigorating to experience a band that earns its applause the old fashioned way — with great songs, hummable hooks, and LOUD FUCKING GUITARS! It’s called rock and roll, dude.

Take the ball bearing set out of your nose and try it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Belly

    Belly brought lot of grit and a touch of grace to the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.

  • Pickathon 2016
    Pickathon 2016

    Pendarvis Farms transforms for three extraordinary days into the fun and psychedelic fest of your wildest indie music loving dreams, Pickathon. Alexa Harris was there to experience the joys of farm life for the weekend.

  • Money Chicha
    Money Chicha

    Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul). Review by James Mann.

  • Micronotz reissues
    Micronotz reissues

    Mortal Micronotz, Smash, Live, The Beast that Devoured Itself, 40 Fingers (Bar/None). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Big Eyes
    Big Eyes

    Stake My Claim (Don Giovanni Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Various Artists
    Various Artists

    Money Maker (Studio One). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Pawns

    A triple bill of underground Goth, led by NYC’s Pawns, transforms Uncle Lou’s into a time machine. Jen Cray did not wear eye makeup, but she did wear a black shirt to the show.

  • Bossacucanova

    The Best of Bossacucanova (Six Degrees Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Ranch Ghost
    Ranch Ghost

    Lookin’ (Rough Beast Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • The Scientists
    The Scientists

    A Place Called Bad (The Numero Group). Review by James Mann.

From the Archives