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Guided by Voices played Irving Plaza (review, video)

Guided by Voices @ Iriving Plaza (photo via @klaus_kinski)
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On Friday (7/11), less than two months after playing Bowery Ballroom, Dayton OH senior rockers Guided By Voices roared into NYC once again, this time to lay a drunken lustre upon Irving Plaza. And, brother… it was a whopper.

This GBV experience ticked so many boxes on the Klaus Kinski Checklist of High-Maintenance Concert-Going Standards. I was pretty pooped from seeing Gorilla Biscuits the night before this show, so the first attribute of this phenomenal show had to be the timing; doors at 7pm, Crystal Stilts at 8, GBV from 9 – 11. Done. Anywho, I had seen opener Crystal Stilts somewhere before and I remember my previous feelings about them was that they were complete and total garbage. However, this time around they really really appealed to me. I am not sure what changed or what would cause my appraisal of them to do a complete 180, but I found their opening set on Friday night to be an incredible combination of filthy, reverberating guitars, driving beats and really tight, almost lethargic vocals. There was a certain level of gloom to their set, but it didn’t reek of the melodramatic. Singer Brad Hargett’s the epitome of anti-stage presence, but it doesn’t come off as smug; it comes of more as “my voice in my instrument, so I am here to sing, not act like a numbskull for your entertainment.” I thought from start to finish their set was a great representation of what works in their catalogue which has been growing in their 10+ years of existence.

After a brief intermission, GBV took the stage a hair after 9 PM to a not-sold-out crowd of about 1000 fans of all stripes. Remarkably, this was GBV’s 18th Irving Plaza gig. Throughout their 2+ hour set, the entire band was in absolute top form. Even Greg Demos, who I admonished in my last post for being distractingly sloppy at their most recent Bowery gig, was in really great form. Drummer Kevin March, as usual, was the metronomic glue holding everything tightly together. And there were some moments when Pollard and guitarist Tobin Sprout unleashed some of the most wonderful two-part harmonies I’ve heard the band pull off in years.

GBV has put out 6 records since they reunited as the classic line-up and the setlist borrowed quite a bit from these newer releases. But with a catalogue as wide and as deep as the one Pollard has manufactured, there was no shortage of older classics and deep cuts. I mean, you really can’t go wrong with a setlist featuring classics like “Cut Out Witch,” “Motor Away,” “Teenage FBI,” “I Am A Scientist,” “Game of Pricks,” and “Tractor Rape Chain.” And of course, peppered among their 50+ song setlist, was Bob’s classic drunken stage banter. One moment he was telling the crowd that writing a catchy tune is the easiest thing in the world to do; “Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, coda. 50 seconds. Tops.” At another point he said he had big news, stating, “We’re going on a world tour opening for Weezer. After that, who cares… 2-3-4″ to which the entire room whipped out their cellphones to immediately suss out if he was full of it or not (he was). Their song choices, the quality of their performance, and the high-energy crowd-atmosphere made this one of the most solid GBV shows I have seen in ages. Definitely looking forward to Irving Plaza show #19.

A few videos from the show are below…

Guided By Voices – NYC – 7/11/14 -A Good Flying Bird

Guided By Voices – Cut Out Witch – Irving Plaza 7/11/14

Guided By Voices – Unleashed – Irving Plaza 7/11/14

Check It Out

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