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Guided By Voices Return to the Stage in Ohio

Close to the top of Guided by Voices’ beer-drenched, 60-song-plus set at Columbus, Ohio’s Athenaeum Theatre Saturday night time, frontman Robert Pollard mused to the viewers: “I used to be born on the stage. I used to be squirted out on the stage…”

The group — a motley crew of locals and super-fans who had crossed the nation for the occasion — roared again, Miller Lite and White Claw soaking all method of GBV shirts commemorating scores of albums, from 2019’s Zeppelins Over China to 1994 monitor “Scorching Freaks,” off of Bee Thousand. Bob was lastly again, and, if the town of Columbus would have solely let him, he would have serenaded all of it night time lengthy.

Pollard’s return to the stage was notably poignant — as all dwell music occasions appear to be lately — because the frontman, who’s used to traverse the nation busting out three-hour exhibits, has been rooted in his everlasting hometown of Dayton, Ohio, because the pandemic descended. Save for a livestream in July 2020, the self-proclaimed natural-born performer’s viewers shrank to his yard, the place pals would assemble — socially distanced in fact — to drink beer and bullshit. Saturday, those self same pals have been in attendance for GBV’s grand return at a venue simply 60-odd miles from Pollard’s yard — from the highschool the place he’s a proud member of the athletic corridor of fame, the sports activities bar that has change into a mecca to GBV followers worldwide, and the airfield the place grandfather-age fighter jets have impressed many a track.

Earlier than the Miller Lite began flowing — there was a particular deal for a literal bucket of 5 — the Athenaeum Theatre smelled like church; the primary flooring was nonetheless arrange for a marriage with white-clothed tables and silver serving trays to maintain buffet meals piping. The band had upgraded from one other venue, in response to chatter amongst Pollard’s friends, as a result of he insisted on a vaccine-only occasion. Regardless of the stately molding and marble stairs, although, the present was pure bacchanal from the second Pollard, guitarists Doug Gillard and Bobby Naked Jr., drummer Kevin March, and bassist Mark Shue took the stage.

The setlist has but to be uploaded — 4 separate sheets of paper lined with Pollard’s daring scrawl — and, frankly, I wasn’t actually within the mindset to take studious notes, however suffice it to say that the band performed throughout the many years. Notably — as Jason Narducy of Superchunk informed me when he popped in to pay his respects — Pollard carried out “My Form of Soldier,” a favourite of good friend and collaborator Tommy Keene, who died in 2017. Naturally, GBV busted out their share fan favorites as properly, like “Again to the Lake,” “Sport of Pricks,” and “Chasing Heather Loopy,” however with a number of new albums below their belt since GBV final toured, they supplied up a pleasant array of latest tunes, too — cuts from Earth Man Blues, Give up Your Poppy Subject, and even the upcoming album (their second of 2021), It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them!

Regardless of nonetheless oiling their hinges after two years off the highway, the band fell again into their rhythm early on within the set, Shue’s loopy legs bending and twisting in shiny white pants, Gillard and Naked’s fingers flying, and March as exact and driving as ever behind the package. Pollard saved his well-known stage strikes to a minimal — he lately acquired a titanium hip — however he did bust out a high-kick or two. And regardless that he declined to share his Jose Cuervo with the viewers — Covid-19 nonetheless looms — he doled out the grins and handshakes like he was nonetheless in his yard along with his buddies and his cooler. And possibly that’s as a result of he was, in a method. As he stated, he was born on the stage. And for now, at the very least, he’s house.