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There is an old saying in the music biz that a band is only as good as its drummer. On this evening, Kevin March proved that theory. March recently replaced another Kevin (Fennell) on the Guided by Voices drum stool after Fennell lead an unsuccessful campaign to sell his drum kit for $55,000 on eBay. As it turns out, the real winners of that auction are the fans. The sluggish feel that hampered GBV shows since they reunited has dissipated, and the band suddenly feels, once again, like the live juggernaut they were in the early 2000s.

It helps that March played with GBV during most of that era. The band seems reinvigorated by his presence. Even the subdued Tobin Sprout enjoyed a bounce or two on the Belly Up stage. Bassist Greg Demos and guitarist Mitch Mitchell waged their usual war over who could strike the most guitar-god poses throughout the night. Demos won, since Mitchell was often preoccupied with his efforts at singing backing vocals while smoking a cigarette. Band mastermind/vocalist Robert Pollard rocked all his trademark moves as well, including his high leg-kicks.

But, like any good GBV show, this evening belonged to the songs, and there were plenty to digest. The most pleasant surprise was a trio off recent GBV albums that seem destined to be new live GBV classics. I’m looking at you “Xeno Pariah,” “Planet Score,” and “Alex and the Omegas.” While these all faired quite well, it was no surprise that classics such as “Wished I Was a Giant,” “Shocker in Gloomtown,” and “I Am a Scientist” were really what sent the crowd into a frenzy.

And what a great crowd it was! It is a rare occasion these days that I actively insert myself into a situation (say, leaning center-stage at a GBV show) that is basically an invitation to my own beating. I got pushed, knocked, kicked, and shoved. (I don’t think I got a punch, but I certainly deserved one at several points.) And I was drenched with enough beer and sweat to merit a 2 a.m. shower. The people ramming into me all night had the same crazed look in their eyes that I assume I had adopted as well. The euphoric gaze of rock-and-roll salvation.

  • Concert: Guided by Voices
  • Venue: Belly Up
  • Date: June 14
  • Seats: Floor
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