Twin Cities scenesters share their knowledge of GBV -- one of rock's hardest bands to get to know.
'They're just that kind of band -- the kind some people don't get, but the ones who do get it really get it."
So said First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz, talking about Guided by Voices. A fan long before he worked at the club, Kranz really knows what he's talking about when it comes to the cult-adored, critically lauded but otherwise largely ignored band of beer-guzzling everyday Joes from Dayton, Ohio, who return Tuesday to First Ave on a first-ever reunion tour.
Just one of many prominent scenemakers in the Twin Cities who are nuts for GBV, Kranz even flew out to Seattle this weekend to catch the tour before it comes here. He was accompanied by Current DJ and E.L.nO. bandleader David Campbell, who isn't even the most diehard GBV fan on staff at 89.3 FM. That would be Mary Lucia, who doses out GBV like One A Day vitamins.
I thought I'd leave it up to some of these diehards to illustrate the excitement behind this tour, for which the band's indie-iconic singer Robert Pollard assembled the '93-'96 "heyday" lineup (if that means anything to you).
I used to fancy myself a rather dedicated GBV fan, too, but even after owning eight or nine of their albums and seeing them live a dozen times, it got to where I only recognized 10 of the 40 or 50 songs at shows (the band's hyperproductivity was part of their cult appeal).
So let's hear from the people who will recognize most of the songs.
Loves GBV because: "I picked up their first box set because I read so much about it and was blown away. Even if there was a song you didn't like, you just have to wait a minute and another comes along. What really sold me, though, was seeing them live. They come off like a band where they're all just drinking buddies, and you can really feel how much fun the band is having."
Favorite album: "Bee Thousand."
Favorite memory: "Their Grand Old Day show in 2004 was pretty unforgettable, from Bob getting led onto the stage by the cops to the guitarist Nate Farley falling off the stage with a cigarette in his mouth and not missing a beat. I also remember [former First Ave marketer] Erik Westra being so out of it after a show he needed help getting home. Instead, he wound up at a party and got a girl's number who he couldn't remember meeting the next day. She's now his wife."
Nuttiest moment as a GBV fan: Kranz threw a local GBV Day party at his house last winter. "It was just six to eight hours of hanging out, drinking and listening to the albums. We got through a lot of them in that time, but obviously not all of them. My girlfriend left town. She didn't want anything to do with it."
Loves GBV because: "I have a lot of affection for some baseball-loving, beer-crushing regular dudes who just kept at it because they love to rock. Pollard's a genius, but he's also like your wise-cracking black sheep uncle who might not get invited back to Thanksgiving."
Favorite album: "Alien Lanes" and "Under the Bushes Under the Stars."
Favorite memory: "The police chief leading [Pollard] on stage in handcuffs at Grand Old Day was pretty classic."
Why Bob Pollard is king: "His ability to create his own universe in song and mythology, which is basically born out of being such a fan and student of rock 'n' roll. Also, the melodies."
Nuttiest moment as a GBV fan: "Last summer I attended a party where everyone drank only Miller Lite and Cuervo and listened to GBV all day while playing whiffleball. I made a T-shirt for that."
Loves GBV because: "They came along at just the right time in my life to remind me of all the reasons I loved rock 'n' roll in the first place."
Favorite albums: "Bee Thousand" and "Propeller."
Favorite memory: "A friend dragged me to see them at the student union in Madison on the 'Bee Thousand' tour. I'd never heard a note of their music before, but they were a proverbial breath of fresh air in the post-Nirvana rock world. I loved Nirvana, but after a few years of watching all these young new bands put on their 'serious faces,' it was such a treat to watch GBV whooping it up."
Why Bob Pollard is king: "At his best, he knows how to write the perfect pop song: packed with hooks, and just short enough to make you want to pick the needle up and put it back to the beginning of the track immediately. It's a trick he's pulled off more than almost any other living songwriter."
Nuttiest moment as a GBV fan: "I continue to dispose of my disposable income on every single record Bob Pollard puts out" -- roughly 80 and counting.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 • Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisRstrib