You’ve gotta be sick of hearing me say this by now, but it bears repeating: I am a huge fan of Guided By Voices. Any and every release, if I can find it, will find its way into my house for constant rotation. To me this is as natural as breathing.
Well, here’s a DVD in 5.1 surround sound (released simultaneously, for those who prefer it, as a 2-CD package) of the boys themselves on television, at Austin City Limits on November 9, 2004. And it is a really frickin’ beautiful thing, indeed.
It’s all here. Some songs you know. A few you might not (but should). An exuberant crowd. Buckets of cups of beer and tequila. Relatively tight musicianship under the influence. And in the middle is that loveable mug Mr. Pollard himself, spastic dancing and high-kicking ringleader of the inevitable shenanigans.
If there were ground rules given to the band before the show, it seems pretty clear that they promptly forgot them and, by their very nature, turned the show into what it actually was: a GBV show. In other words, one helluva good time for all involved. They share drinks with the crowd, bum lights for their smokes, and generally prove to be what they always were – a people’s band.
Nate Farley drags some guy on stage for Sad If I Lost It and Cut Out Witch, and I thought ‘now there’s a lucky fan,’ but it turns out it was Pete Yorn. As if I knew what Pete Yorn looked like, hammered and singing along (and very badly, at that). Well, clearly, I didn’t. But there he was. And other fans do jump on stage, now and then, as the gig devolves into more of a happily drunken brawl than a music gig. But they are mostly respectful and the band takes it all in good humour.
This was recorded just over a month before their final show ever, in Chicago. I’ve already written in these pages about the beautiful 4-hour marathon that that became. This Austin set just goes to show you what a bunch of guys having fun can do when they are also, secretly, a well-honed and professional group of musicians. It is such a shame these guys called it quits. What a great band.
This set is 30 songs and a whole buncha fun packed into 97 blissful minutes, and watching this DVD will be the most enlivening thing you’ll do today.