Guided by Voices w/Times New Viking at The Cannery Ballroom, 1/14/11



Given the elderly nature of the headliners, the tendency of said olds to start their sets on time and end in a timely fashion, and rumors that said set of this particular act were in excess of two hours, The Spin made a rare excessively timely arrival, one half-hour before the openers even took the stage. The room held but a handful of hardcore fanboys and girls already staked out front and center. The PA blasted a shallow smattering of new jams from flagship ’90s indie rock bands, which we more less guess was appropriate.

On paper, Times New Viking seem like an obvious choice to open, being also a lo-fi indie rock band from Ohio. Sweet twee harmonies, shimmering fuzz and bangin’ beats were all present and accounted for, but they must have left their hooks back in Columbus, as while it all made for a pretty sound, it didn’t add up to much worth remembering.

In the 45 minutes between the end of Viking’s last jam and the moment a neon sign flashed on to declare “The Club Is Open" — signaling the arrival of headliners and cult indie gods Guided by Voices — this thing had gone from criminally under-attended to proudly packed. Fist-pumping bros outnumbered the gals considerably, and went various degrees of apeshit as the band sent out salty salutes to valuable pocket knives, robot boys, games of pricks and kickers of elves. In fact, we were soon among the pumpers of fists once we heard the opening riff of “Exit Flagger,” and Spin faves like “Striped White Jets” and “Echos Myron.” Channeling The Who’s most grandiose and energetic moments, echoed through the mighty riffs and epic choruses of Cheap Trick with Barrett-esque lucidity, these jams sounded anything but dated when freed from their original hissy documents. We were finally there. Shit yeah, it’s cool.

Mad-libbing laureate, and indie rock’s hardest drinking frontman, Robert Pollard was rarely without a beer during songs, sipping harder libations from the bottle in between. And have we mentioned the moves? Heavens, the moves. Between Pollard’s mic twirls, karate kicks and toe touches, guitarist Mitch Mitchell’s epic windmills and bassist Greg Demos’ puffy shirt and vest combo, these cool-dad stage moves would be easy to mock if we weren’t too busy reveling in deep cuts from Vampire on Titus and Fast Japanese Spin Cycle, and kinda wishing these guys were our dads.

Once the show was “over,” nearly everyone in the audience knew it was anything but. After the first encore, casual listeners had had their fill and made a mass exodus for the exit, but those who still hungered for more were blessed — nay, spoiled — with not one, but two additional encores.

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