There are certain live rock experiences that shouldn't be missed, and a Guided by Voices show definitely falls into that category. I don't know how I made it through the '90s without seeing them at least once; I've liked them since the glory days. Somehow I just missed them the umpteen times they came through Boston. But I caught them on their reunion tour of the classic mid-'90s lineup a few years back and it was transcendent. After initially balking this time around because of the ticket price, I bit the bullet and got one. And I'm glad I did: Last Saturday at the Paradise, GBV delivered a 45-plus song set that didn't let up, providing all the boozy power pop fun one could hope to expect from Dayton's finest.
Much of the material drew from the prolific band's most recent albums, Motivational Jumpsuit and Cool Planet, but there were plenty of classic GBV nuggets to go around: "I am a Scientist," "Echos Myron," "Tractor Rape Chain," "A Salty Salute," "14 Cheerleader Cold Front," and on and on. Robert Pollard was in fine form and feeling no pain (friends had seen him and band ripping it up before the show, and the beers and booze were flowing onstage as well); his between-songs repartee ("60 is the new 35," he cracked at one point) was hilarious as usual. The band's other main songwriter and singer, Tobin Sprout, was given plenty of room to do his material and it was uniformly excellent.
Openers Crystal Stilts turned in a solid performance with their '60s psych-rock influenced sound, but it suffered from a lack of dynamics. Hopefully, they're picking up a few pointers on this tour from the seasoned veterans taking the stage after them. With six albums released in the last two years, GBV's going stronger than ever. If you get a chance to see them, don't question why, just DO IT.