Dublin Pub set the stage for a classic GBV show on March 16
By Kyle Melton
Deep into their epic set at Dublin Pub on St. Practice Day, the Classic Lineup of Dayton’s Guided By Voices (GBV) broke into the track “Lethargy” from their 1992 breakthrough album, Propeller. While the track barely breaks the one-minute mark on record, on this night the grinding pulse served as a backdrop for the GBV story of humble basement beginnings. Frontman Robert Pollard and his crew displayed for the hometown crowd the fruits of their labors, a veritable plethora of melodic gifts renowned the world over.
Over the years, GBV has been notorious for exceptional levels of inebriation at hometown shows, but on this night they appeared in full command of their powers and kept debilitating amounts of consumption at bay. With bassist Greg Demos tearing across the stage in his striped pants egging the crowd on and guitarist Mitch Mitchell slashing out ear-splitting power chords with guitar held high, the stoic Tobin Sprout and drummer Kevin Fennel dutifully rounded out their massive sound. At the front stood Robert Pollard, cigarette and microphone dangling from one hand, beer and tequila taking turns in the other, dishing out pithy rants and sublime melodies in between his trademark high-kicks and mic twirls.
As their neon sign declaring “The Club Is Open” hung high in the tent outside Dublin Pub, the reunited ‘Classic Lineup’ of Dayton’s legendary GBV took to the stage around 8:30 p.m. Opening with the obscure “#2 in the Model Home Series” from their ultimate lo-fi offering, Vampire On Titus, Pollard & co. set a dense mood, indicating the band was perhaps willing to explore the darker corners of their oeuvre that night. As diehard fans mixed with the early revelers for the drinking holiday out to see what GBV had to offer, Pollard dug through their mid-90s output and put together an incredible selection. Drawing from classic albums such as the critically-acclaimed Bee Thousand to EPs such as The Grand Hour, the assemblage of near-hits such as “I am a Scientist” intermingled with deep cuts like “Matter Eater Lad” to demonstrate an exceptionally breathtaking array of the band’s endearing gifts of melody and invention.
They played over 30 songs during their set, then an encore, and another and one more. Over the course of nearly three hours, GBV laid out their musical legacy with such authority and unbridled enthusiasm that even the most casual of observers could not deny that this is a band whose esteemed reputation is beyond reproach. In some alternate universe, this set could have filled an arena, and the band played like it had. How songs such as “I Am a Scientist,” “Motor Away,” and the jubilant “Echos Myron” continue to exist as hits to a select few remains one of the great mysteries of modern music.
Although GBV in its various incarnations over some 20 years earned a reputation as one of the hardest drinking outfits ever to take the stage, it is their willingness to take their art to the absolute brink of collapse that has endeared them to so many. While the risks have, at times, resulted in performances both ghastly and glorious, on this night GBV stepped to the plate, aimed for the fence and knocked it out of the park.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at email@example.com and visit his blog at www.thebuddhaden.net.