Robert Pollard

Get a faceful
By MIKE MILIARD  |  April 24, 2006

GUIDED BY TEQUILA: The band were more workmanlike, but Pollard was still the boozy shaman.From the first song, the stately, shimmering “Gold,” the opening track of Robert Pollard’s sprawling double album From a Compound Eye (Merge), notice was served at the Paradise last Friday that his first solo tour would be a different beast from the raucous, shambling piss-ups that marked Guided by Voices gigs of old. Sure, there were plenty of the buzzing fuzzpop gems, psych-garage-punk nuggets, and shoulda-been smashes that make up the vast, almost unquantifiable idea dump of Pollard’s infamously prolix discography. But his new backing band — guitarist/keyboardist Tommy Keene, guitarist Dave Phillips, bassist Jason Narducy, and drummer Jon Wurster — brought a more workmanlike professionalism to the material, keeping the songs tight and giving them more-expressive tonal dynamics.

Meanwhile Uncle Bob played, as ever, the role of boozy shaman. He dipped regularly into a trash can filled with beer bottles, and over the course of the night the dead soldiers piled up in bunches around the stage. Passing his tequila bottle around an appreciative front row, he slurred, “The love you give is the love you get.” And if he wasn’t as smashed as he’s been in the past, he still busted out plenty of leaps, karate kicks, and microphone lassos during the jaunty “Dancing Girls and Dancing Men,” the Who-ish epic “Conqueror of the Moon,” and the criminally catchy “I’m a Strong Lion” before calming down for the gorgeous, affirming “U.S. Mustard Company.” Peppering the evening were more new songs (“Get a Faceful,” “Serious Bird Woman, You Turn Me On”), from the forthcoming Normal Happiness (Merge), which is due in November. In June, Pollard, the schoolteacher turned rock god, will be drinking on bigger stages. “We’re opening for fucking Pearl Jam!” he proclaimed with a mixture of triumph and incredulity. “Pearl Jam should be opening for us.”
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