Most people around me have already heard me whine about the ending of Guided By Voices, so I’ll spare you repetition now. Suffice it to say, it was beyond sad to see them end. Over 21 years, and through a large cast of characters, the band created some of the most interesting, intelligent and invigorating music I’ve ever been privileged to hear.
This DVD, then, is a perfect document, recorded live at their final show. It’s a drunken, sprawling, career-spanning Chicago concert held on New Year’s Eve, 2004. The song selection is extensive (63 songs!), the band is in top form and, sure, drinking all night made the end of the show seem like a marathon (the concert runs 4 hours), but captured here is the magic that was GBV. Past members and friends joined the band on-stage, the record label sent the biggest bottle of champagne I’ve ever seen, balloons fell from the ceiling, Robert Pollard bummed smokes and shared beer (and the microphone) with fans… Perfection.
I never got to see GBV in concert, a fact I regret, but retrospect can only take you so far. This DVD will be as close as I’ll ever get, and it remains one of the best music DVDs in my collection. As if the concert wasn’t enough, there’s even some extras tacked on, including four live tracks from 1994, two videos of Pollard recording demos, and a cool fold-out poster of the last show’s set list.
All of the songs are well done, even if wrong notes were played, lyrics were forgotten, changed or went unheard because Pollard didn’t always have the microphone to his mouth… it all just adds to the overall picture. I particularly enjoyed the song selection from Encore #1, but the entire show kicks some serious ass.
The last track, Don’t Stop Now, is titularly apt seeing as Pollard has continued his blistering recording and touring pace with different musicians, but captured here is the essence of a band that will forever be remembered (by me) as lo-fi rock’s Kings.
I recommend that everyone see this, fan or not, and especially if you’ve never heard of them or any of their music. It’s never too late to get caught up, and let me tell you, it’s worth every second.
Guided By Voices meant something, and they always will. They had an appreciable influence on modern music, and their long journey, culminating in this final show, could be viewed as a coming of age, too. To quote Echos Myron, “We’re finally here, and shit yeah it’s cool!”