Guided by Voices, not at the Commodore, Oct. 22, 2003
We arrived at the Commodore to find signs informing us that the venue had changed to The Drink at 368 Richards St. What the hell’s The Drink? Why not the Commodore? So many questions to ponder as the belter and I walked across town. The Drink, it turns out, is not far from Gastown, and this was its first rock show. Apart from some ID-checking fascism at the door (which we escaped because we’re old), the venue wasn’t bad in terms of access, staffing and sightlines. It had a vibe somewhere between Richard’s on Richards and the Starfish Room, except with a bar crammed into every corner—providing full service to the party crowd on regular nights, I guess. The draft selection was pretty dire, and it ran dry long before the night was over.
We saw most of the opening act. I never caught their name. Their singer played keyboard and they had a violin/cello string section along with the usual bass/gtr/drums. The songs were downtempo and inoffensive. I was going to say “unmemorable,” but one of them just popped into my head.
GBV came on after a long break and proceeded to play about 8,000 songs over the next two and a half hours. Robert Pollard drank his case of Bud, whipped his mic around, and extolled the virtues of rock and roll, being 46 years young, Devo, Dayton OH, and “doing it for the kids.” The rest of the band took their cues from him, getting looser as the set wore on and the collective blood alcohol level rose. They never fell apart, however, mainly due to the steady presence of the quiet man on lead guitar, Doug Gillard. He looks like the guy who anchors the whole operation. He’s handy with that Les Paul, too. As a consumer I abandoned trying to keep up with the relentless Pollard/GBV release schedule long ago, so I didn’t recognize large chunks of the set list. That’s okay; it happens every time I see GBV. They did plug the last couple albums pretty heavily, and played most of the hits from the Bee Thousand/Alien Lanes era. I think my friend Gary K, cutting a fine figure in a Wyckyd Sceptre shirt, was disappointed by the absence of “Tractor Rape Chain,” but I couldn’t complain.
Gary drove us home in his fancy new sports coupe. Today I've got 8,000 +1 songs in my head, and my feet hurt.