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2. Have you seen them perform live? What do you make of their legendary on-stage drinking and general rowdiness? How integral is all of that to the overall experience?
Frank Lyon, Keepaway
I have not. By the time I could have I had a hunch they were past their prime. Now, actually, I think I will sometime this summer. Because so many people have told my I am incomplete without this experience. It seems the indulgence is crucial to the experience.
Thomas Fekete, Surfer Blood
It’s wonderful. While we like to drink and party on stage, we are still a bunch of dorks. Guided By Voices are much cooler than us. Also, smoking on stage is awesome.
Andrew Savage, Fergus and Geronimo
I have always enjoyed a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously on stage. It’s definitely fitting, because it has always seemed to me like GBV were having a lot of fun on their records, too. GBV’s sound is difficult to translate live, with a lot of the stuff sounding a little stiff sometimes. I think the drunken rowdiness sort of counters that.
Beth Wawerna, Bird of Youth
Yeah I saw them a bunch in between about '99-'03, when I first moved to New York. And I'm a pretty staunch proponent of on-stage drinking/smoking/rowdinessóbut I also think itís something that not everyone can pull off. There ís a real art to it and itís a fine line you walk between being entertaining to your audience and having them feel embarrassed for you. GBV always managed to be entertaining, at least in my experience. But that said, I tend to believe that if you took the beer and smokes off the stage, theyíd still have the same energy.
Luther Russell, Producer (Holly Miranda, Laura Marling, Sean Lennon)
I never saw them live in person, but I imagine I’d have a great time and be all wrung out by the end. I’ve watched on YouTube, etc., and it’s quite an energetic display of abandon and emotion. As far as all the rowdiness, I kind of grew up listening to bands like the Replacements—very Midwestern, heart-on-sleeve type music. I went to a few Replacements shows, and I think that type of loose, rock and roll attitude, married with a certain melodicism and clever lyrics really had a huge effect on me. So naturally, I connect a line straight through to bands like Guided By Voices. It’s the same tradition. To me, anyway.
Ezra Feinberg, Citay
They’re obviously a killer live band and they always have been, and it’s definitely a party. I’m all for it, but for me their songs are just as poignant on record, especially while driving. I became obsessed with Alien Lanes during my last year of college. Driving around the Hudson Valley that spring having no fucking idea how or if anything in my life would work I took every riff very seriously. “As We Go Up We Go Down” got me through it, no joke, I guess, cause of that warmth paired with that attitude. The lyrics to “A Salty Salute” still make no sense, but they do to me. I know this sounds corny but I feel like that song is about how essential community is, especially to people trying to do something different. So yeah, GBV is not just a party.
Emily Ambruso, Grooms
Never got to see them live but it would’ve been nice. I was pretty young when they were making their classic records, though. The drinking/smoking is oddly endearing to me, even though I’ve largely given up both of them. Not having seen them, I can’t say how integral it was, but I’m sure it was charming, to say the least.