Reviews

Guided by Voices: 13 October 2010 - Chicago

It wasn’t difficult to see that the primary thing that has made past shows great, Robert Pollard’s quirky personality, continues to permeate the most recent sets with greatness.

Guided by Voices

Guided by Voices

City: Chicago
Venue: The Riviera Theater
Date: 2010-10-13

There was a great deal of anticipation at the Riviera Theater as fans awaited the reunited Guided by Voices to take the stage. In fact, the band had initially been booked to play the smaller Vic Theater and tickets for the show sold out so quickly that it was moved to the Riviera Theater. Packed to the brim, the crowd chanted “G-B-V” emphatically while the house music played ill fitting radio friendly pop songs. When the lights dimmed and the red light flashed through the darkness of the backstage area to signify that the band was ready, large cheers were heard. Yet, lead singer Robert Pollard’s odd sense of humor further prolonged the eagerness of devotees by playing a strange vintage track about available language tapes. Fans couldn’t wait for the Club to be Open and experience all the re-occurring fondness for many old classic songs.

By the time Guided by Voices graced the stage, the crowd was more than ready for the two-hour-long set. It wasn’t difficult to see that the primary thing that has made past shows great, Pollard’s quirky personality, continues to permeate the most recent sets with greatness. Undoubtedly, Pollard has a feeling of kinship with the city of Chicago or he wouldn’t have spent his “final” shows with Guided by Voices on New Year’s Eve at the Cabaret Metro in 2004. However, this didn’t keep him from joking around about mixing up venues between here and NYC.

In addition, Pollard made a huge show about finding his old bandmates and introduced his old mates multiple times, expressing his gratitude. He seemed especially comfortable with his old friends, referring to bassist Greg Demos as his “brother” and hugging Sprout. Throughout the set, the majority of the band were very energetic while showing off their rock moves. Pollard’s stage presence took the cake as usual and, though he talked to the audience about how he was a grandpa at his age, he still did his fair share of kicks, mic twirling, and jumps whilst drinking and smoking. Pollard is one of the most prolific songwriters in American history and yet, even in states of immense intoxication, he ever seems to forget any one of his hundreds of thousands of lyrics.

It also takes someone with a teaching background to write lyrics that seem to intelligently touch upon the human essence. At the same time, it’s driven with rock that is at times more classic and at other times quite elusive due to his melancholy and rambling sensibilities. Not surprisingly, there’s a great deal of especially long-time fan appreciation for the rejoining of these key original members. One thing that fans were really treated to was a collection of Tobin Sprout songs from many of the earlier albums which have an undeniable sentimental quality including “A Good Flying Bird", “Awful Bliss", and “Gleamer". This also set the tone for the setlist and led to an exclusion of other songs that didn’t involve Tobin Sprout. Pollard did mention the setlist choices overall directly, stating that he had to acknowledge both the larger songs and the smaller wonders that shouldn’t be left out.

Sprout was the most understated of the group in the sense that he wasn’t jumping and kicking. He modestly did his part and seemed more lovable and real for it. In addition to these tracks, Pollard celebrated many of his older songs by taking lead on such as “I am a Scientist", “Hot Freaks”, “Game of Pricks”, “Gold Star for Robot Boy”, and “My Valuable Hunting Knife”. Pollard also added the amusing story about recording the vocals to “Hot Freaks” while Sprout was having a garage sale with customers probably wondering what was going on.

There was a grand feeling of shared celebration in the air as audience members clapped for two separate encores featuring songs like “Don’t Stop Now", “Dodging Invisible Rays", and finally closing the night with “A Salty Salute". Overall, many of the later albums of the band’s career (after the lineup had changed to exclude Tobin Sprout) were, of course, left out. A major difference besides his absence was the markedly increased production such as with major label releases 1999’s Do the Collapse and 2001’s Isolation Drills. However, If we all go by the earlier releases emphasized with the reunion setlist such as Propeller (1992) Bee Thousand (1994) and Alien Lanes (1995), it seems like something would actually be lost vs. gained with excess production. If it isn’t lo fi, it isn’t genuine.

Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Books

'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.