Garage rock icons Guided By Voices tore into Music Hall of Williamsburg on New Years Eve 2016 (Saturday 12/31) and delivered the packed but comfortable room nearly three-hours of career-spanning rock n' roll gems. As a person who'd prefer to be in front of his television in his underwear with the blinds drawn tearing into some serious wine while the rest of the world's numbskulls spend too much on booze and mediocre food and partake in amateur-hour, unbridled douchery, having the option to see one of my favorite bands ring in the new year was a great reason to tell my boy Carlo Rossi to take the night off.

To commemorate the New Years festivities, MHOW was absolutely festooned with New Years banners, plastic top hats, leis, noise makers, and balloons, all of which the drunken hoards of GBV fans were quick to put to good use throughout the evening. Perhaps because of the hefty $65 ticket price, the show never ended up selling out and though the venue was quite packed, there were definitely pockets of barrenness. I rather enjoyed having plenty of room to roam the balcony and the elevated side areas of the main floor to catch the show from multiple vantage points. Regardless of crowd size, like most GBV shows, the evening definitely felt more like a gigantic party than a 'show' and I'll take all of that you got.

This GBV gig only had a single opener, Richard Davies' Australian rock outfit The Moles, who took the stage pretty much at 9 PM on the dot. Though I had never heard The Moles prior to this gig, I have to say I absolutely loved the hell out of their 45-minute set. A fantastic collection of anthemic and poppy rock numbers fronted by a drunken and truly physical and hilarious frontman like Richard Davies was the perfect appetizer to the 54-song main course GBV would soon be shoving into my ear-mouths. If The Moles ever schedule another gig in NYC I am definitely going to make time for that.

Following a brief intermission, the newest iteration of Guided By Voices hit the stage and tore through a massive but fairly typical setlist chock full o' all the classics as well as some new stuff from GBV's great 2016 release Please Be Honest. GBV's current line-up is sort of half old, half new. On the one hand you have GBV vets Doug Gillard on lead guitar and Kevin March (Shudder to Think, Robert Pollard solo, The Dambuilders) on the drums. These two fellows comprised what was, for me, the best GBV line-up in the books. As far as drummers go, you really cannot do any better than Kevin March, a man who is not only as dead on as a metronome, but who also has the chops to absolutely dismantle his drum kit with powerful strikes. Doug Gillard is hands-down one of the best guitar players in rock. That man knows his way around a fret board like nobody's business. He radiates such skill and confidence that he has all the presence of a true rock star. Rounding out the band are newcomers Bobby Bare Jr. on guitar and Mark Shue on the bass. Not only did these two fellows bring an immense amount of classic rock and roll capabilities to the table, but they also brought some youth to a band usually comprised of people who are pretty long in the tooth. I don't envy these boys having to learn a Guided By Voices catalogue, but holy moly did they bring the stank.

The setlist, which you can see below, was just crammed with highlights and at no point did the band ever lose their stride. As a matter of fact, after they'd been playing for two-hours, midnight struck, and everyone sort of had to scramble to acknowledge our entrance into the new year. Highlights for me included "My Valuable Hunting Knife", "Bulldog Skin", Doug Gillard's masterpiece "I Am A Tree," "Cut Out Witch," Tractor Rape Chain," the one-two punch of "Glad Girls" and "Teenage FBI," and of course their three encores which included "Motor Away," "Don't Stop Now," The Who's "Baba o' Reilly" and more. The setlist was perfectly curated and perfectly executed. Vintage GBV.

59 year-old front man Robert Pollard has certainly not reduced his booze intake to any noticeable degree, but I think that this was the first GBV show I have ever been to in 17-years where the ubiquitous cooler full of beer was completely absent from the stage. Instead, a burly Action Bronson looking guy continued to bring out beer after beer from backstage. Also gone is Pollard's ubiquitous cigarette and I am totally cool with that. As he is one of my heroes I want him to live as long as humanly possible and cigarettes will do nothing for one's longevity. What is not absent is Pollard's penchant for high-kicks, breeze-inducing mic twirls, and his meandering and hilarious stage banter.

Pollard promised a shitload of new material in 2017, so fingers crossed for more material and more touring. Happy New Year!

SETLIST: Guided by Voices @ MHOW 12/31/2016
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My Valuable Hunting Knife
Come On Baby Grace (Boston Spaceships cover)
The Quickers Arrive
Expecting Brainchild
Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft (Robert Pollard song)
Glittering Parliaments
What Are All Those Paint Men Digging? (Ricked Wicky cover)
Gold Star for Robot Boy
The Brides Have Hit Glass
Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy
Hotel X (Big Soap)
Lithuanian Bombshells (ESP Ohio cover)
Navigating Flood Regions
Psychic Pilot Clocks Out (Robert Pollard song)
Back to the Lake
Mobility (Ricked Wicky cover)
Echos Myron
Come On Mr. Christian
Bulldog Skin
Of Course You Are (Robert Pollard song)
Smothered in Hugs
I Am a Tree
Question Girl All Right (Boston Spaceships cover)
Royal Cyclopean (ESP Ohio cover) (With Dennis Cronin on trumpet)
Kid on a Ladder
Cut-Out Witch
Planet Score
Poor Substitute (Ricked Wicky cover)
Subspace Biographies (Robert Pollard song)
Do Something Real (Robert Pollard song)
Tractor Rape Chain
Authoritarian Zoo
Exit Flagger
Get Under It
My Zodiac Companion
Make Use (Robert Pollard song)
Please Be Honest
Tabby & Lucy (Boston Spaceships cover)
Dragons Awake!
Fair Touching
The Official Ironmen Rally Song
Not Behind the Fighter Jet
The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
Glad Girls
Teenage FBI
Game of Pricks
I Am a Scientist

Encore:
Dayton, Ohio-19 Something and 5
Motor Away
Don't Stop Now

Encore 2:
Shocker in Gloomtown
Lethargy
A Salty Salute

Encore 3:
Baba O'Riley (The Who cover)

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