After over thirty years of performing and songwriting, Robert Pollard is back on tour with Guided By Voices to promote the release of a new album, Please Be Honest. This is the band’s 23rd studio album to date and this year’s tour marks the second time they have reunited. GBV’s personnel has changed multiple times since formation in the early 1980’s, however Pollard has consistently remained the primary songwriter and lead singer. Apart from Pollard, there have been a total of twenty different supporting players in the band’s lineup over the years. After their initial run, they broke up in 2004, having changed members a few times since the beginning. However, they got back together in 2010 with the classic lineup originally present from 1993 to 1997. GBV then broke up a second time in 2014. Reforming the band for a second time in June of 2016, Pollard is now touring again as Guided By Voices with Doug Gillard, originally in GBV from 1997 to 2004, Kevin March, from the 2001 to 2004 lineup, and two brand new members on guitar and bass. Guided By Voices’ music is characterized by its frequent use of lo-fi recording methods to accompany a casual post-punk style.
Florida indie rockers, Surfer Blood, joined GBV on the tail end of their 2016 tour and also just put out some new music. They released the single “Six Flags F or G” from their upcoming album, Snowdonia, on November 3rd. The album is set to be released February 3rd of 2017, and it will be the first record the band has produced since the tragic death of guitar player and third founding member, Thomas Fekete. Surfer Blood was originally formed by John Paul Pitts, Tyler Schwartz, and Thomas Fekete in Orlando, Florida in 2009. The band name is fitting to their sound, which is basically a fusion of alternative and surf rock that leans heavily on spring reverb.
The show started promptly at 9:00pm with Surfer Blood, whose lead singer had a very quirky stage presence. When they played the single, “Take It Easy,” from their debut album, John Paul Pitts put down his guitar and meandered around the floor with a mic until he found himself halfway inside a trash can. Before continuing with the second verse, Pitts introduced the rest of the band while standing in the garbage. The rest of their set was just as fun.
Guided By Voices began at 10:00pm and played a staggering amount of songs until about 11:30pm. The band’s loyal fans were unfazed by the length of the set, however, and belted the words to every song along with Pollard. Hands in the air and drinks sloshing all over, the audience could not have been more in sync. GBV played a crowd-pleasing setlist with a few tracks from the new album, but mostly comprised of the group’s greatest hits, including “Teenage FBI,” “Game of Pricks,” “Glad Girls,” and all the others. They even played “I Am A Tree,” which was written by Doug Gillard while he was with Guided By Voices in 1997. The show was not complete without Pollard drinking more beer and whiskey onstage than most people would offstage. This may have been why it seemed to be common etiquette to douse the band in alcohol during their third encore, which ended the show with “A Salty Salute” and a cover of “Baba O’Riley” by The Who.