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Guided By Voices

The Electrifying Conclusion DVD
Plexifilm

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Standing outside an unassuming cafeteria on the CMU campus a decade ago, Robert Pollard -- already 20 years older than many of his fans -- looked confused, perhaps even distressed. "These kids keep coming up to me and talking to me about bands, and I've never heard of one of 'em," he said, still doe-eyed in the college-rock fame he'd found ten years into his career. "I still think The Who are hip."

 

Think about it: At the finale concert in Pollard's band's journey, filmed in Chicago on New Year's Eve 2004, Guided By Voices is old enough to drink in bars. Yet its white-haired and half-cut front man comes out swinging on "Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox" still sounding as enthralled by Messrs. Townshend and Daltrey -- and as unimpressed by his own cult-god status -- as ever.

 

This was obviously one of America's great concerts of all time: Iconic pop fan Beatle Bob's introductions, the onstage band-only bartender, a warts-and-all college-deejay's-dream set list. The Electrifying Conclusion is the ultimate fan-boy goosebump fest: Four fucking hours of Guided By Voices' legendarily chaotic catalog sucked in and spat out in typical Bud-drunk fashion: From the exalted rock glory of "Watch Me Jumpstart," to the staggering, slurred, butterfingered anarchy of "Don't Stop Now." And yet, after a 47-song set list and 16 songs' worth of encores, the clock showing 4:15 a.m., the still-packed audience is stomping and shouting for more.

 

As a DVD voyeur, of course, you actually get it: More slurred speech and embarrassing body movement at the after-party, some yawny footage of Pollard recording demos, and a thoroughly lo-fi film of the band live in 1994 -- testament to the long-term greatness of GBV.

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