Last night, as my bud Dan Bell drove us to the Treehouse, I got a text message from Joe Peppercorn at 9:02: “Bob Fucking Pollard is at the bar!”
At 9:09, a text arrived from Justin Hemminger of SPD GVNR: “Uncle Bob is here.”
Being a fan of GBV, and having seen Pollard get hammered at random Ohio bars over the years, this revelation shouldn’t have alarmed or surprised me. Pollard is a drinker. He is as well known for his obnoxious love of modest lager as he is for his high kicks and prolific songwriting. What made these text messages goofy was the fact that last night was Guided By Voices Appreciation Night at The Treehouse. Bob was there to listen to, as Kyle Sowash remarked, “a bunch of shitty bands play his own songs.”
Organized by Sowash, our berg’s enigmatic, happy and handsome, rock and roll prince, GBV Appreciation Night featured 10 or 11 Columbus bands playing nothing but GBV songs. Because if there is one band that most of us turds can agree on, the band is GBV.
When I finally got to the Treehouse, with my guitar and tacklebox in hand, all the slack motherfuckers set to play were both giddy and nervous. Pollard, his brother, Nate Farley and some dude that looked like a young Gary Busey (wearing camoflauge cargo pants), were at a table in the back of the tree room sucking down Miller Lites. A friend of a friend told me he heard Bob say, “I can’t wait to hear my fucking songs, maaaan.”
Peppercorn, pack leader of The Whiles, was all nerves. “I shoulda spent more time with the lyrics,” he said as we high-fived. Thirty minutes later into the night, the While’s were spot on during “Dragons Awake!” and “Postal Blowfish.”
Pollard hugged Peppercorn after the Whiles finished their set and instructed Joe, “you can play me in the Guided By Voices movie.” Joe had a face boner for the rest of the night.
As the Cabdrivers played, I hid in the back of the tree room. Everyone, including Pollard, was impressed by the Cabdriver’s rendition of “Cut Out Witch.” “Better than we ever diiiid it,” Farley said to Bob.
To stave off an allergic reaction to antibiotics, I was pretty juiced on Rolling Rocks and Benadryl by the time me, Adam Dowell and Dan Bell played our four songs. Bell had us drink Rolling Rock since all of the songs we played were from Propeller and Bee Thousand. It was GBV’s swill of choice back then, long before Bob and company started counting calories.
I’m not trying to glorify the modern molotovs. I’m actually trying to justify using cheat sheets with scribbled chords on them, because EVERY other band, at least the ones I heard and saw, played their sets from memory with a spirited, surgical focus. However, in retrospect, playing a lot of wrong chords may have been a more honest replication of the Crying Your Knife Away recording.
Bob bumbled out of the room at around the same time that SPD GVNR was about to play. It’s too bad, because he missed the best set of the night, including monstrous renditions of “Motor Away,” “Dayton Ohio Nineteen Something and…,” “Official Ironman Rally Song” and “Bulldog Skin.”
Everyone sang along.
THE KYLE SOWASHES – “I am a Tree” & “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory”
ANIMAL CUBES – “Glad Girls”
WOOSLEY BAND – “Do The Earth”
ERIC NASSAU – “As We Go Up, We Go Down”
BOOKMOBILE – “Watch Me Jumpstart”
Billy Peake is the lead singer/guitarist of Bicentennial Bear.