Guided by Voices

Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa ON, July 12

Photo: Kamara Morozuk

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished Jul 13, 2019

Returning to Ottawa for the second time in three years, Guided by Voices seemed to have gained a fervent following in the nation's capital the same way they've done it around the globe: pure hard work.
Headlining the Bluesville Stage during night eight of Ottawa's ten-day Bluesfest, the Dayton, OH indie rock mainstays attracted a sizeable crowd who managed to squeeze towards the front of the tented stage to create a club-like atmosphere. Joined onstage by long-time GBV members guitarist Doug Gillard and drummer Kevin March — alongside newer members Mark Shue on bass and solo artist Bobby Bare Jr. on guitar — vocalist Robert Pollard looked healthy, happy and ready to rock.
Opening the set with new tracks "The Rally Boys" and "Holy Rhythm," Pollard emphatically told festivalgoers "30 songs in 60 minutes, that's how we do it!" Moving into a rendition of "Jane of the Waking Universe" from 1997's Mag Earwhig!, the 61 year-old proceeded to move briskly across the stage to point out various fans in the crowd and serenade them. Breezing through a set of songs that relied heavily on tracks from their two 2019 releases, Zeppelin Over China and Warp and Woof, it was material from their iconic mid-'90s LPs, Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, ("Gold Star for Robot Boy," "Tractor Rape Chain," "Echos Myron" and especially "Motor Away") that managed to increase the overall energy, as aged fans jumped up and down and sang along wildly.
Due to time restrictions put upon by the festival, Guided by Voices edited their normal marathon setlist into a lean 75 minutes, bunching together beloved tracks like "Game of Pricks," "Cut-Out Witch" and "I Am a Scientist" while Bare Jr. and Shue perfected their windmill guitar strums and provided tight harmonies. Closing with the mother of all sing-alongs, "Glad Girls" from 2001's Isolation Drills, Guided by Voices put in the necessary work to deliver the crowd one of the finest intimate club shows this behemoth festival has ever witnessed.

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