The ticket read Robert Pollard (former Guided by Voices frontman), but no one in the crowd at the Abbey Pub on November 11 needed to be reminded of that. An indie-rock icon and father of reinvention, Pollard proved that he only gets better with age. Joined on stage by indie legend Tommy Keene, Jon Wurster, Dave Phillips and Jason Narducy, Pollard said, “I’m back with the same group of guys, ’cause they fuckin’ rock!” and then treated fans to a two-hour blow out of more than forty songs.
While showcasing his forthcoming album, SilverFish Trivia, with great new power-pop songs such as “Circle Saw Boys Club,” “Met Her at a Séance” and “Life of a Wife,” Pollard also sang several songs from From a Compound Eye and Normal Happiness (both officially released this year). He kept the infamous “Bob banter” to a minimum, but filled the space with distinct and rarely-heard-live Guided by Voices songs from the 1996 album Under the Bushes Under the Stars. Highlights included “Ghosts of a Different Dream,” “Drag Days” and “Take to the Sky.”
The evening culminated with an encore dedicated to Guided by Voices that included “Motor Away” and “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory.” If you didn’t know better, you may have thought you were in Pollard’s basement at a sing-along with six hundred of his closest friends. The set list was brilliant and the talented band was solid.
The party continued on November 12, when Pollard’s fans traveled from all points of the country to see Dayton’s prodigal son take the stage in his hometown. The reception was warm and raucous. The set wasn’t much different from the previous evening’s, except for the three encores with the final song being an emotional rendition of “Fair Touching,” with Pollard on his knees for the entirety. The Chicago show felt like a close get-together; the Dayton show felt like a family reunion.