Video and recap – Guided by Voices at the Wonder Ballroom, Portland, and the Showbox Market, Seattle, June 8 2014
– by Shawn Conner
Wearing a mustard-coloured “Pollard pitched a no-hitter” T-shirt, Eddie Vedder introduced Guided by Voices last Sunday night at the Showbox Market in Seattle as “the greatest rock band in the world.” For the next two-and-a-half hours or so, and over the course of more than 40 songs, the Dayton, Ohio band proved the Pearl Jam frontman right.
The Seattle show followed a Portland stop June 7 at the Wonder Ballroom. That show seemed a little sloppier, though for both, vocalist Robert Pollard came onstage carrying an open bottle of tequila (and midway switched to Crown Royal whiskey before handing the bottle to the audience). Pollard also introduced both shows by saying that the band would be mostly playing material from its two 2014 albums, Motivational Jumpsuit and Cool Planet, as well as Bee Thousand. He noted that the latter, regarded by many as the band’s high-point, was released 20 years ago this year.
Both nights included several songs from Tobin Sprout, including “All American Boy” and “Psychotic Crush” off of Cool Planet. Sprout was reserved but solid while bassist Greg Demos (introduced by Pollard at one point as “my lawyer”) was all over the stage (and, occasionally, all over his fretboard) while chainsmoking guitarist Mitch Mitchell kept the power chords coming. Kudos especially to Kevin March who elevated nearly every song to arena-size.
Highlights from Cool Planet included “Authoritarian Zoo”, “Hat of Flames”, “Pan Swimmer”, “Males of Wormwood Mars”, “Table at Fool’s Tooth” and the title track, all of which sounded huge (thanks in large part to March) and fantastic live, especially at the Seattle show. Album curiosities like “These Dooms”, “Fast Crawl” and “You Get Every Game” were also played, Pollard explaining the latter as using the metaphor from cable packages that promise that viewers will “get every game.”
These were played alongside perennials like “Tractor Rape Chain”, “Motor Away”, “A Salty Salute”, “Smothered in Hugs”, “Echoes Myron”, “Gold Star for Robot Boy”, “Pimple Zoo” and “Cut-out Witch”.
Surprises included “Fair Touching” (both nights) and “Esther’s Day” (Bee Thousand) and “Wished I Was a Giant” (Propeller), both played Sunday night in Seattle. Fans came from all over for both shows, with an especially strong Vancouver contingent at the Seattle show.
Video – Guided by Voices, “A Salty Salute” and “Quality of Armor” (final encore, Seattle June 8 2014):