Everynight Charley

Guided by Voices at Irving Plaza / March 4, 2022

Since forming Guided by Voices in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio, vocalist and only constant member Robert Pollard has announced the band’s demise several times. This announcement often has been followed several months later by an announcement of a new album. Guided by Voices has released 35 albums, many of them limited editions, along with EPs, Pollard solo output, and other releases. Even while much of the music world closed shop, Guided by Voices released five albums during the pandemic, the most recent, Crystal Nuns Cathedral, on March 4, just four months after the release of It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them!

As many as 50 musicians have claimed membership in Guided by Voices over the decades. The present configuration has been intact since 2016. It consists of Pollard, guitarists Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare Jr., bassist Mark Shue, and drummer Kevin March.

After two COVID-era postponements, Guided by Voices finally performed at Irving Plaza on the day of the newest record’s release. The show featured no support act. Guided by Voices played 55 songs in just under three hours. The band introduced seven songs from the new album and spotlighted seven songs from Bee Thousand, perhaps the band’s most popular album, plus two songs from Pollard’s solo catalogue. In all, the performance included songs from 22 albums.

Throughout the evening, the lighting remained static. With no spotlight or change of lighting, everything on stage looked blue all night. One red light in the center sometimes gave Pollard a glowing outline. For most of the show, all the audience saw were silhouettes of Pollard and his band of animated musicians. 

A party spirit poured from the stage into the audience. The band had a cooler on stage, and the musicians, especially Pollard, regularly reached for a refresher. As such, two-and-a-half hours into the show, the pause between the main set and nine-song encore was probably more of a bio-break for the musicians than anything else.

The evening’s marathon repertoire consisted largely of GBV’s signature pummeling power pop. Songs highlighted loud power chords and slick guitar leads. Normally one does not want the musicians to overpower the singer, but tonight this would have been justice. Pollard’s vocal range repeatedly fell flat, with too many key notes proving to be unreachable. Three hours of fair-to-poor singing could induce winces and cringes over and over again; the concert was more enjoyable by grooving instead on the hook-laden melodies, bouncing to the strong rhythms, raising a rock fist in the air, and joining the band’s rock and roll party. Forgiving the failed vocals, the audience enjoyed the mix of new songs with better-known songs, including “Everybody Thinks I’m a Raincloud (When I’m Not Looking),” “Cut-Out Witch,” “I Am a Scientist,” “Game of Pricks,” “Shocker in Gloomtown,” “Hot Freaks,” “Teenage FBI,” and “Glad Girls.”

Photo by Everynight Charley

Setlist

  1. Everybody Thinks I’m a Raincloud (When I’m Not Looking)
  2. Re-Develop
  3. Spanish Coin
  4. A Salty Salute
  5. Haircut Sphinx
  6. Man Called Blunder
  7. Excited Ones
  8. Cut-Out Witch
  9. Unfun Glitz
  10. Climbing a Ramp
  11. Dance of Gurus
  12. The Disconnected Citizen
  13. Crash at Lake Placebo
  14. King 007
  15. Motor Away
  16. Moses on a Snail (Robert Pollard song)
  17. My (Limited) Engagement
  18. Never Mind the List
  19. Trust Them Now
  20. Volcano
  21. Jane of the Waking Universe
  22. Mr Child
  23. Tractor Rape Chain
  24. Amusement Park Is Over
  25. Eyes of Your Doctor
  26. The Batman Sees the Ball
  27. Stops
  28. To Keep an Area
  29. Never Abandon Ship
  30. The Very Second
  31. Yours to Keep
  32. Echos Myron
  33. Free Agents
  34. Rally Boy
  35. Mad River Man
  36. My Kind of Soldier
  37. The Best of Jill Hives
  38. People Need Holes
  39. Twilight Campfighter
  40. Crystal Nuns Cathedral
  41. Time Without Looking
  42. Your Name Is Wild
  43. Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft (Robert Pollard song)
  44. I Am a Scientist
  45. Game of Pricks
  46. Non-Absorbing

Encore

  1. Shocker in Gloomtown
  2. Smothered in Hugs
  3. Chasing Heather Crazy
  4. Closer You Are
  5. Hot Freaks
  6. Back to the Lake
  7. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
  8. Teenage FBI
  9. Glad Girls