Which bunch of aging rockers is worth it?
This summer, prepare yourself for a man older than most wearing clothing he probably shouldn’t. That’s right. In honor of his band’s upcoming 40th anniversary club jaunt, Mick Jagger moved a chair into his upstairs hallway, pried open that tiny door in the ceiling, unfolded the ladder, and crawled around amongst the asbestos in the attic until he found that rusty old chest labeled “Foppish Stage Wear.” This summer, in venues across America, a man older than all of the Strokes combined will don his silky red cape, spangled shoes, and an enormous Uncle Sam top hat, and prove it all night to ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls that the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band is still exactly that.
Only now, they can’t remember to put roses on your grave.
The Stones have aged into elegantly wasted English gentlemen teetering good-naturedly on the edge of self-parody. Mick still has the voice, and Keith still has the grooves. But despite the comparatively economical ticket price for the small-venue portion of the Rolling Stones’ impending tour, chances are you’ll still get ripped off. Because the Glimmer Twins haven’t rocked like their youthful selves since, well, their youth. Onstage, Jagger ’02 jerks around in his re-tooled body like a coked-out chicken, name-checking his own trademark stage moves. Keith fares better. Transfused with the blood of comely virgins, he hangs back and fakes it for just one more show. Given, even if they’re old and faking it, the Rolling Stones are probably better than many other groups. But what if Mick wants to play his solo material? That’s some Primitive Cool, man.
Taking the above into account, why not save the over $200 you’ll spend (two tickets, plus presale and Ticketmaster service charges), and put it towards Guided By Voices? While Bob Pollard isn’t as old as Mick Jagger, he’s getting there. Plus, if you’re an older guy yourself, a GBV gig is one of the only shows you can attend anymore without getting that distinct, slightly threatening “Old Guy At The Show” vibe. At last night’s Guided By Voices show at Chicago’s Metro, the middle aged guys with complicated hair quotient was fairly equal to that of young, dorkwad eyeglass’d Indie Rocker.
Guided By Voices is the perfect solution to the Rolling Stones dilemma. In its current configuration, GBV features Nate Farley on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Nate has a beer belly. This, coupled with Pollard’s famously Dad-like stage presence (“Thank you, kids!”), makes seeing GBV similar to a backyard reunion of a long-gone rock band.
The coolest thing about Guided By Voices? They’re still here.
Basement 4-tracking and a furious release schedule helped Pollard and company achieve a cult-like status amidst the Lo-Fi fervor of the 1990s Indie Rock scene. And, in another similarity to Jagger and his crew, Pollard and GBV have made a name on out-rocking and out-drinking their audiences. This contines. In addition to the kicks and microphone twirls copped from Townshend and Daltrey, Pollard has incorporated beer-juggling into his arsenal of lead-singer-without-guitar stage moves. (And for the sake of this article, I’ll assume that Bob does a mean Jagger impersonation, too.) Ohio’s favorite sons don’t have the deep well of sex appeal that Jagger and Richards possess. After all, in their stained khakis and saddlebags, Guided By Voices look more like a collection of Little League coaches wearing their clothes from college. But they can rock it. Anthems like “The Official Ironmen Rally Song” or “Teenage FBI” infuse power-pop sensibility into the arena rock riffing of The Who, and Pollard’s fake British accent is as memorably cheeky as the Stones’ guilty pleasure flirtation with disco.
With the $200+ you didn’t spend on the E*TRADE Financial Rolling Stones World Tour 2002, you can buy two tickets to Guided By Voices for $20, and spend the rest trying to drink as much as beer as the old guys up on stage. The best thing about GBV? They’ll never hire personal trainers.