Founded by 12 people in 1796, and formally incorporated in 1805, the city of Dayton, Ohio has a population of just under 800,000 people, which is not a whole lot, in city terms. Its impact on the nation, however, has been laudably outsized; the Gem City has produced a number of gems in all aspects of American life, beginning with aviation pioneer Orville Wright. Its influence on the music scene has been particularly felt, since Dayton birthed two of the most important rock bands of the past 40 years. One is The Breeders (my personal favorite band ever, for the record), and the other is Guided By Voices, the reigning deans of Midwest rock, who ARE playing here on Saturday, Aug. 11.
Other than a six-year hiatus at the beginning of the century and a briefer break in 2014, the band has put in 35 years of solid work, although Pollard is the only original member who remains. “We’re lo-fi pioneers,” says guitarist/vocalist Doug Gillard, a veteran Ohio musician who played with the band from 1997 to 2004, then rejoined two years ago. He was running his own bands out of Cleveland when GBV was first gaining notoriety in the mid-’80s, later playing in bands like Nada Surf and Cobra Verde before linking with GBV.
GBV are currently on tour promoting their newest album, Space Gun, released in March on Rockathon Records, a boutique label out of Dayton that exists almost solely to distribute Bob Pollard product. Joining them on this leg of the tour is Cornell University professor Park Doing, a childhood friend of Pollard’s who has performed musically as The Atomic Forces for decades. Their sets tend to run between 50 and 60 songs, but they’ll draw from a pool of dozens more, switching out songs to accommodate the constant stream of new material, as well as older favorites.
Guided By Voices—stylized as “GBV”—was founded in 1983 by Robert Pollard, widely regarded as one of the most prolific songwriters of the modern era, with more than 1,600 individual credits to his name. A third of those were GBV tracks, released through at least 26 albums (with two more due in the next year-and-a-half), 20 EPs, 45 singles and no fewer than six box sets, four of which contain all unreleased material, issued in batches of 100 songs each.
All of these numbers are speculative. Much like Sun Ra or Manly Palmer Hall, there’s really no way of knowing for sure exactly how much GBV stuff is really out there; Pollard himself may not even be sure. What we do know is that Pollard’s collected oeuvre may easily dwarf the recorded output of most any other musician in the history of the world, and that covers a lot of ground. There’s even a whole website, just for parsing all that data, which is a great way to spend the rest of the year.
Speaking of covering ground, on Saturday night, GBV will be working fairly unorthodox territory, that is, the stage at Intuition Ale Works, which expanded into a much larger location Downtown after a few years on King Street, near CoRK. From the aforementioned website, we learn that this is their third time playing Duval, having worked Jack Rabbits in 2001 and 2004. But this is a very different kind of space.
“We relocated to a large industrial space in Downtown Jacksonville a few years ago,” says Intuition COO Brad Lange. “The primary goal of this move was to brew more beer and be more centrally located in the city. A bonus for us was that our new facility had a lot of open space, which gave us the ability to host really unique events.” The high ceilings and open floor plan make for sumptuous acoustics, ideal for jangly alt-rock of the GBV variety. “We decided to start reaching out to our favorite bands and inviting them to play in our production area,” says Lange. “It started out as a pipe dream, but we immediately received positive responses from several bands and decided to take it seriously.”
GBV are just one of several bands slated to play that space this summer, with a yuge lineup being planned for 2019. All in all, this show is a great opportunity to see one of the most influential bands of its era in a setting that really showcases the elements of their unique appeal. Craft beer and indie-rock go together like peas and carrots, and on Aug. 11, we’ll see the very best of both.
Guided By Voices, 7-11 p.m. Aug. 11, Intuition Ale Works, 929 E. Bay St., Northbank, guidedbyvoices.com, $23