Guided By Voices: Washington 9:30 Club

Marathon three-hour set of twisted pop genius from Robert Pollard and pals...

“Are there any secret service men out there tonight?” Guided By Voices captain Robert Pollard poses this question toward the beginning of a gruelling three hour set. Surveying the audience, there appear to be no mysterious high ranking body guards in sight. Pollard and his boys needn’t worry about an assassination attempt, though. They are amongst friends in the nation’s capitol this evening.

It is one giant party, with non-stop music and general revelry as the theme.

Equipped with a cooler full of bottled domestics and an endless supply of

smokes, Guided By Voices proceed to hypnotize the crowd with a visual spectacle involving arena rock posturing, high-flying kung fu kicks, and microphone twirls galore. Pollard repeatedly thanks the rock troops for attending and offers patrons free drinks from the magical cooler periodically throughout the marathon set. The beer is cheap, but tonight it tastes twice as good when accompanied by classic tunes such as ‘Watch Me Jumpstart’, ‘Hot Freaks’, ‘Game of Pricks’

and ‘Teenage FBI’ -live staples that trigger a fist-pumping/air guitar wielding frenzy in the stalwart supporters.

Although the veterans touch on material representative of virtually every

stage of a decade-plus career, songs from the band’s most recent effort,

‘Isolation Drills’, are most prominently flaunted (or promoted). These tunes did not disappoint. Most notably, ‘Chasing Heather Crazy’ and an inspired rendition of the sing-a-long anthem ‘Glad Girls’ offer evidence that if GBV so chooses, it has the ability to make the transition from a cult-favorite

to an accessible pop-rock juggernaut.

Well into the second hour of music, Pollard and pals refuse to call it an evening. Some concertgoers feel the need to tap out, but for those who have the stamina to endure another 60 minutes, the show becomes even more special. Guided By Voices finally retire after two consecutive five-song encores. At this point, the venue is open well past closing time. As the club empties, there is still no sign of the secret service – fortunately the only shots fired at the band came from the barrel of Jack Daniels.

Bret Booth