My First Guided by Voices Show

On Thursday, Sept. 29, 1994, I drove to Athens, Ohio with four friends to see Guided by Voices. I had talked to Toby and Bob on the phone a few days before the show, and I explained that we couldn’t get tickets, so they put us on the guest list. We were psyched.

When we found the Union Bar, the place they were playing, we could hear the band playing. It was really early, so obviously they were just doing a soundcheck. But they sounded great and the door was open, so we went upstairs and watched.

There was absolutely no one there except for the band, the soundman, some bartenders, and some lady who was chain-smoking in one of the booths.

It turned out that the lady in the booth was Kim Deal. So my friends and I walked over and talked to her for a moment, and she seemed really cool.

Then the band stopped playing and grabbed themselves some beers. About at that point, the bartenders kicked us out and told us to come back in about an hour.

At about 9:20 we came back and waited for them to let us in. After a few minutes, Kim and the Sad Freaks walked out of the bar and Kim came up to our little group and asked us where they could get a bite to eat. We directed them to an East Asian restaurant across the street.

At 9:30 we got big X’s marked on our hands because we were underage, and we had to pay a dollar even though we were on the guest list, which wasn’t a big deal, of course (one buck to see Appalachian Death Ride, Thomas Jefferson Slave Appartments, and Guided by Voices). Kim and G.b.V. came back from eating, so my friend Matt and I went up and introduced ourselves to Bob. He didn’t have an arrogant rock star mentality at all. I asked if they had brought any 7″s to sell, and he said, “We got such a shitload of stuff to sell. We’ve got imports. We’ve got 7″s.” Or something to that extent. He was very warm and avuncular to us, as if he were our dad’s best friend or something. We were psyched that our hero was such a cool guy. He took us over to Pete Jamison’s little nest of goodies and got him to show us all their merchandise. I purchased a great t-shirt, hand silk-screened by Pete, featuring the cover of “Vampire on Titus.” This was a great purchase, as it represents the last of the truly lo-fi line of G.b.V. shirts. Later, I bought a “Propeller” shirt, also made by Pete, from one of my friends, who had bought it at the show, but had decided she didn’t like it. It’s extra special because it’s printed on a reject Hanes T, longer in the back than in the front.

Anyway, back to the story. I also purchased “An Earful o’ Wax,” which, it should be noted, includes two great songs from the band’s hard-to-find debut EP “Forever Since Breakfast.” Those songs are “The Other Place” and “Sometimes I Cry.” “An Earful o’ Wax” isn’t incredibly hard to find, and it shouldn’t be too pricey.

A few moments after I bought the record, as well as some others, Bob came up to me, very pleased to see that I was such a zealous fan. He took the LP from me, pulled the record from its sleeve, and said to me, “Look…Clear vinyl.” I talked to Kevin for awhile. He practically introduced himself to me, which was flattering. He apologized, as he felt that he was talking my ear off, but I assured him that it was impossible to talk my ear off on the subject of G.b.V. He told me that he and the band had quit their jobs a couple of months ago to pursue G.b.V., and that they felt a little uncertain of what the future held for them. They realized they were taking some risks. I think I reassured him of any doubts he may have had about the band’s decision to go full time as rock’n’rollers. He said to me, “If it wasn’t for guys like you, there wouldn’t be a G.b.V.”

For the entire show, which was absolutely packed, I was about three feet from Bob and close enough to Toby to request a song in a conversational tone during a short break. For the second half of the show, I was actually half on and half off the stage. Bob was passing out beers to a lot of us, passing six packs into the crowd to be opened for him, hugging the six packs to his chest and singing, swinging his microphone, doing Mick Jagger kicks, and letting some of his former students sing along with him. The music was great, but the vocals were so hard to hear that the only reason I knew what Bob was singing was that I knew the words to most of the songs. When everything quieted down for “14 Cheerleader Coldfront,” however, they sounded great, with Bob and Toby harmonizing quite well together. It was a special moment.

In spite of the difficulty I had hearing the vocals, it was a great show, full of enthusiasm from both the band and the fans. After the last song, I reached down to grab the set list from Bob’s monitor, only to see it snatched away by a fellow fan. Quickly, the adrenaline racing through my blood, I looked up and saw Mitch Mitchell’s set list, which was taped to a big speaker on the left side of the stage. I jumped onto the stage, raced over to the speaker, and snatched the list just in the nick of time, because another G.b.V. enthusiast was racing for it just as I was. I was a proud man as I shook the hand of my opponent, who congratulated me as I stuffed the crumpled list in my pocket. The band, of course, needed the set list, so I pulled it out of my pocket and showed it to Jim Greer, so they could play the encore.

Charlie Meyer



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