Guided By Voices Rock The Green Music Festival

On the 20th anniversary of their iconic and most beloved album Bee Thousand, Guided By Voices rocked The Green Music Festival in Wicker Park, Chicago.

While I have been a big fan since the late 90s, I had a serious problem of actually seeing the band live.

A combination of bad luck, bad timing and the fact that they split up from 2005-2012 (my going-to-shows-wheelhouse), Saturday night was the first time the stars actually aligned.

Driving my boat of a 1997 Suburban from the suburbs, the skies began to turn a deep hue of purple. "Don't you smite me!" I proclaimed to the massive storm clouds developing faster than I could drive.

As I made my way through Wicker Park to my friend's apartment, a downpour began to slap the roof of my truck.

"I hope it's in a tent," I weakly pleaded to myself as I bumped the latest Guided By Voices album "Cool Planet" while finding a parking spot.

Luckily, the Great Magnet was on my side Saturday night. Not only did the rain stop, but my mind was melted by a serious professional punk rock (actually not a oxymoron I found out) set by the pride of Dayton, Ohio, Guided By Voices. The shamanistic leader of the band, Robert Pollard did his trademark leg kicks and swinging of the mic cable with the virility of a 16 year old.

Being that Guided By Voices are back with their "classic" mid-90's line up, Robert was backed by guitar bad-ass Mitch Mitchell, singer/guitarist/songwriter Tobin Sprout (who I had the pleasure of interviewing in May), bassist Greg Demos and drummer Kevin March. While March wasn't actually part of the "classic" lineup, he has filled the void left by Kevin Fennell after Fennell's firing last year.

Do yourself a favor and look up the controversy regarding his firing. Even the band's turmoils are more interesting than most bands finest hours.

The guys rolled through nearly 30 songs with the subtlety of a jack hammer. Mixing nearly half of the classic 1994 release Bee Thousand with plenty of songs from the last few years, Pollard and Sprout's songwriting kept the packed festival crowd singing along as if they were in a sweaty little club. When the guys broke out "Cut Out Witch," the crowd erupted and my mid-90s concert mentality returned to the point where I had no choice but to push the dude next to me (in an effort to start a "pit").

Unfortunately I was reminded that it is a different era when he gave me a scowl and rubbed his arm like a little hipster baby. At that same point, I looked behind me and saw Scott Lucas of Local H hanging out behind us.

enjoying the show. "Good times!" My friend and I said in unison.

After the show I got to meet the guys from the band and even though they couldn't be more normal or more Midwestern, I still felt like I was in the presence of heroes. Heroes simply for the breadth of their work, the amount of music they have given us and the effort they still put into every single show. They gave me the set list and we chatted a bit.

The only strange part was that they were behind a chain link fence, so it was kind of like I was meeting cool, caged, rock beasts.

And that is actually pretty much what they are, so in a way it fit. If Guided By Voices is coming to your town, it is highly recommended that you quit finding excuses and go see the Dayton Rock Beasts!

For more on Guided By Voices: http://gbv.com

Photo courtesy of Robert Pollard's Facebook page