In case you were wondering: the name of this blog, Underwater Explosions, is more than just a clever metaphor for culture happening underneath the surface. It's actually a song by Guided by Voices, which appears on their 1996 album Under the Bushes Under the Stars. Never heard of it? That's ok. They have like 500 songs, and only one of them is "I am a scientist."
Anyway, the '90s, prolific, lo-fi masters visited the Trocadero last night, and I was there to see them. And you weren't. But that's ok, because here are 10 talking points which will help you fake your way through a conversation with anyone who loves GBV.
1.This was the "classic" line-up, which means: the people Robert Pollard chilled with most in his garage in the early 90s, and who eventually joined him on tour in the mid '90s. I know this, because I once read a book about Guided by Voices.
2. At 53, Pollard is all white hair, looks a smidge like a taller Bill Clinton (especially from a distance), and can still kick his leg high into their air with abandon. Other talents that have never left him include: microphone-swinging, drunken slurring, Jose Cuervo-swigging, shirt-sweating, and singing.
3. Pollard's former right-hand man, Tobin Sprout, seemed particularly demure, was clad in a polo shirt, and exhibited significantly less chattiness than is apparent on all those Vh1 documentaries he's a commentator for. (How do you get that job anyway?) Perhaps he is too busy working on his children's book?
4. Bassist Greg Demos wore striped pants, a frilly tuxedo shirt, and a vest, for an overall image that was not unlike that of a creepy carnival ringmaster clown. He also exhibited impressive knee strength, doing this pose for most of the set:
5. Guitarist Mitch Mitchell -- besides having the coolest name ever -- wore a black anarchist shirt and chain-smoked the entire time, while doing occasional windmills with his arms.
6. Drummer Kevin Fennell was there too, but no one noticed him with all the other chaos.
7. The band played for 2 hours; their set included most of Bee Thousand, including "Buzzards and dreadful crows," "Tractor rape chain," "The gold heart mountain queen directory," "Hot freaks," "Smothered in hugs," "Echos Myron," "Gold star for robot boy," "Awful bliss," "I am a scientist", and probably 1 or 2 others I don't remember.
8. The band offered not 1, not 2, but 3 encores -- each one sounding drunker and more awesome than the last.
9. Midway through the second encore, Pollard decided he had had enough of the Jose C., and passed the bottle around to the audience.
10. In the middle of "Hot freaks" Pollard sang Took me to Pie Land / Said I'm a thigh man. Or at least: that's what everyone THOUGHT he sang. What he was really sang was: Took me to Pilam / Said I'm a thigh man. See, Robert Pollard knows that Pilam is awesome, and full of hot freaks. (Ok, just kidding on this last point. But everything else I swear is true!)