Guided By Voices Douse Fans With New Songs

Indie-rockers showcase two recent albums.

SAN FRANCISCO — "Hello — we're Emerson, Lake and Pollard,"

Guided by Voices frontman Bob Pollard said as he and the band took the

stage Thursday night at the Maritime Hall.

"We were schooled on the four P's of rock: punk, pop, prog and


He forgot to mention prolific.

In addition to promoting GBV's Do the Collapse — whose single

"Teenage FBI" (RealAudio

excerpt) was no doubt responsible for some of the GBV newcomers

among the crowd of about 1,000 — Pollard had a new side project to

push. Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, recorded

with GBV guitarist Doug Gillard, is the fourth non-GBV album or EP Pollard

has released this year on Rockathon Records — and he and the band

wasted no time in getting to it. (Click here to go to photo gallery of concert.)

The 42-year-old Pollard — bedecked in a black long-sleeve, button-down

shirt and black jeans — opened the show by leading the band into "A

Salty Salute," a brothers-in-arms anthem off Alien Lanes (1995)

that, played live, managed to encapsulate all four of Pollard's "P's."

The moment the first note struck, a neon sign, reading "The Club Is Open"

(the song's chorus), lit behind drummer Jim Macpherson, inspiring the

fans' roar of approval.

"I'm so excited!" Debbie Stewart, 25, of San Francisco yelled. "I've never

seen them before, and I've always wanted to."

The band then popped into "Tight Globes" and "Frequent Weaver Who Burns"


excerpt), both from Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire

Department, and both showcasing the tightly wrapped packets of pop

prowess that are Pollard and GBV's trademark.

Gillard and rhythm guitarist Nate Farley beefed up the staccato rhythms

laid down by Macpherson. Bassist Tim Tobias — who, judging by the

way he sang along, may be the biggest GBV fan in the band — provided

a solid underpinning.

GBV played five songs from the new album in the first half-hour of the

two-hour show and were obviously jazzed for the new material. Fully

comfortable in his role as showman, Pollard broke out his limber leg

kicks and Roger Daltrey–esque microphone twirling in record time.

Maritime Hall, an old sailor's union hall, looks more like a high school

cafeteria than it does a club, with its 30-foot-plus ceiling and an overall

municipal ambiance. But in true San Francisco style, a psychedelic light

show — complete with acid gels, courtesy of the Brotherhood of Light

(the house lighting crew) — gave the hall a '60s-throwback feel.

The stage was flanked by the gel work and, on both sides of the room,

huge video screens showed live footage of the band set against spaceships

and other outlandish imagery. Pollard seemed to notice the screens for

the first time during "Things I Will Keep," from Do the Collapse,

pointing to them with both arms and giving a "Pretty cool, huh?" look to

the fans in front.

After spending an hour on mostly new material, Pollard announced, "We're

getting to the point where we're really drunk now. This is when we do

all the old tunes," though later he elaborated, "We went through five

cases of beer, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a couple bottles of cabernet.

Oh, yeah — and a bottle of water!"

The crowd, which had been feeding various bandmembers beers and shots,

screamed in approval. The band then went into their stretch of earlier

material, including "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory," "I Am

a Scientist" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Don't Stop Now," spiked with "Circling Motorhead

Mountain," a song from another 1999 Pollard side project, the Lexo and

the Leapers EP Ask Them.

The band stumbled back onstage to do eight more songs over the course of

two encores, mainly older, "greatest-hits" selections, though they did

throw in another Do the Collapse single, the ballad "Hold on Hope."

At one point, a fan jumped onstage and Pollard handed him the mic, letting

him do his best Pollard imitation to the tune of the furious "Postal


"I've seen them eight times," Michael "Elbow" Digris, 28, of Fitchburg,

Mass., said, after the band ended the second encore with "Smothered in

Hugs," from Bee Thousand (1994). "This was the best show I've seen

since the [1995] Alien Lanes tour."