BY TIM HINELY
Had a bit of a guest list snafu at Denver’s Gothic Theatre so we missed the first few songs by Bobby Bare Jr. but when we walked in he had the crowd eating out for his hand. Bare Jr. is of course the son of country singer Bobby Bare and he followed in his dad’s footsteps to an extent. The music Bare Jr. and co. creates is hard to categorize. At times country-inflected while other times happy bashing away with a punk attitude. The bassist looked like Sailor Tom (ready for the yacht rock revival) while the drummer was stellar and Bare Jr. himself a real affable, everyman chap. They covered Dr Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone” (which The Pixies, of all people, covered on the new Bar Jr./Bare Sr.-assembled tribute to Shel Silverstein) and played some off their latest Undefeated (Bloodshot Records). Good stuff.
The last time I caught GBV was last September at Denver’s first Riot Fest and they turned in a lackluster set. Not the first time I’ve seen GBV take a dump, and probably not the last either, but on this night at the Gothic they band was on and turned in an absolutely rousing set. Uncle Bob Pollard was in fine form, drunk but not too drunk (hey, I saw that cooler of beer on stage) while the rest of the band, guitarist Mitch Mitchell (still chain smoking after all these years), bassist Greg Demos (still in that vest) guitarist Tobin Sprout (the uh, mature one) and bald/goateed drummer Kevin March (long gone is “classic lineup ” drummer Kevin “I-quit-no-you-were-fired-no-fuck-you-I-quit!” Fennell) nailing those drums, kept the righteous groove flowing.
Opening with “Cool Planet”, the title track from the band’s latest (one millionth?) record, the band hammered it home time after time. Pollard of course is still sharpening his skills of swinging the mic cord and nailing those kicks too. They didn’t forget to bring the hits, either, which the crowd was hungry for. The band proceeded to do a career-spanning set which included “Authoritarian Zoo,” “Gold Star for Robot Boy” (off Bee Thousand, they also played “The Goldheart Mountain Top Queen Directory” “Buzzards and Dreadful Crows” and “Echoes Myron” from that record and from the band’s other classic (IMHO), Alien Lanes, we heard “Cut Out Witch” and “Games of Pricks”). The band sprinkled in even old(er) classics like “I Am a Scientist,” “Wished I Was a Giant” and “Shocker in Gloomtown” (always the crowd favorite).
Encores? Oh, they played a few. We heard “Class Clown Spots a UFO” and “Tractor Rape Chain” plus many others. Every time the band walked off the stage the near-capacity crowd began chanting “G-B-V!” over and over until they were nearly forced to come back out (to escape bodily harm).
At the risk of sounding clichéd and saying that “This band really shows the younger bands how it’s done”… well, that is exactly what they did on this night. GBV sets aren’t always this on, but when you can catch them on a night when all cylinders are firing, it’s a beautiful thing. The stuff rock and roll dreams are made of.
Guided By Voices also recently reviewed at BLURT: https://blurtonline.com/review/guided-voices-death-samantha-51714-millvale-pa/