notes: geebeevee (guided by voices) show night, 6/17/97, seattle:
i'd been harping on gbv for weeks. i had my friend convinced they were like the Dead or something. (rabid fans=boring band?). a girl (friend of my friend) knew the singer from thomas jefferson slave apartments (she's an ohio chick), so they were on the guest list. said she might be able to get us backstage to meet pollard! the ohio girl's boyfriend and i drank a lot of wine--a few others had some, but he and i pretty much drained two bottles ourselves. he had quit smoking the day before, and was very stressed about it. he'd been a rabid smoker, and was devouring nicotine gum as we drank.
we all walked to the showbox, where the band was playing. we got in and stood in the back to watch the first band. robert pollard of gbv came on stage and sang a song with the opening band. he was wearing a maroon blazer and holding what looked like a glass of red wine in like a big martini glass. he looked plastered, swaying around as he sang. then the first band was done. after a bit the retooled gbv took the stage. the band were pretty cool. different than the old line-up. slicker. more metal-y. rawk. i liked hearing songs from "not in my air force" live. some of them were fleshed out really well. yay. they played a set that didn't seem that long. pollard kept swinging his microphone cord around and hitting the bass player with it. he kept bumming smokes from people in the crowd, and lights also, and he gave them beers in return. he got a light and someone in the crowd said/did something that we couldn't see, and pollard said "FUCK...YOU" into the mic, and said "SOMEONE COME UP HERE AND KICK THIS GUY'S ASS". the guitarist on the right, the rhythm guy, had on a geometric patterned shirt and made mean faces at the crowd as he played, like he was RAWKING. kinda spinal tap. not obnoxious faces, just a constant glare, with the looking-around-the-crowd thing, like he was thinking "yes, you KNOW i rock, i am ROCKING, you KNOW it, FUCK yeah i am rocking." kinda funny. later in the show the bass player seemed mad at pollard (maybe for all the mics to the head), and pollard said "he's picking on me", and "our bass player hates me" over and over again, singing it, chasing him around the stage, etc.
they played three encores. they got really really loud. right when the lights came up it i heard again that we might be able to get backstage. i was kinda apprehensive about it because i didn't know what i would say to pollard, but it seemed pretty cool too. after the band finished their last encore we milled around looking for the ohio chick, but couldn't find her. we continued to look, and made our way to the lounge, where there's a curtained off area that serves as "backstage" for bands, and we just peeked thru there, and i saw her just as a security guy said "can i help you?". "can i help you?" precedes "you gotta leave", i think, usually. she motioned for us to come in and we looked past her and THERE WAS POLLARD! she dragged the two of us over to him and said "these are my friends--greg is a really really big fan." pollard said thanks to me, and shook my hand, first normally, then sliding into the "soul shake". his hands were smooth. there was a girl hanging all over him, a conventionally-hot, dark-haired tallish 22-year-old type. pollard sang "i can't tell you annnnything, you, don't al-rea-dy kno-ow" and other lines from gbv songs to her. i heard him do this a lot. the ohio chick told pollard tha my friend made really really great dolls (she's an artist-type). pollard repeated it, "you make great dolls. you make dolls". ohio girl said "they're really cool" and pollard said "i want a doll. will you make me a doll?" we told him they were like $900 bucks, and he kinda moved back a few inches, paused, and said "i don't want a doll". he asked a few times how much it would cost to get a picture of the dolls. "a photograph wouldn't cost $900, would it?" she didn't seem to quite hear him. nothing like having someone trumpet your art to a drunk rock star. and drunk he was; he was pretty glazed over. the happy drunk.
the ohio girl's boyfriend was by this point also really really drunk. he was stressing about nicotine withdrawls and was having a beer everytime he wanted a cigarette, which left him pretty helpless. we sat down with him. he actually said "i love you guys, man". he was upset because he's a vegetarian and he'd gotten food at the "noodle ranch" but it had fish sauce in it, but they had at first told him that there weren't any fish products in it. he said that fish sauce was "fish butts". he said it as a mantra. fish. butts. fish. butts. etc. he kept hugging the two of us and telling us he wanted a cigarette. we told him cigarettes are bad. "cigarettes are bad", he said.
there was another ohio guy talking with pollard and our friend, and i stepped into the circle. "ohio rocks, cuz joe walsh is from there, and fuckin' DEVO, man. are we not men?" "duty now for the future", i say, and pollard repeats me. "are we not men?" the other ohio guy says again. i said to the girl from ohio, "you're a bad man". pollard says "i'm a bad man". i said, no, SHE is. pollard says "you're a bad man" to her, and continues to say it every few seconds for a while--"you're a bad man". "you're a bad man". "you're a bad man". "you're a bad INFLUENCE". after a bit more ohio talk i told pollard that my friend mike's little brother looks like him. well, not like you do NOW, i said, like the Young Pollard. "is he a good athelete?" i answered, yeah, he's the big man on campus. "b.m.o.c., huh? good, good..."
a little while later i was sitting at a table drinking. we look up and there's our friend the ex-smoker getting a cigarette from pollard, who is about to light it for him. i RUN up and say, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? YOU QUIT SMOKING, REMEMBER??? pollard immediately tells him (he was pretty drunk, remember) that he REFUSED pollard's cigarette, and how GOOD he's doing to refuse a cigarette, that he's doing GREAT at not smoking, that he's a GOOD MAN.
near the end of the evening the dark-haired vixen is still hanging all over pollard, still getting breathy versions of her favorite songs in her ear. even though it seemed like she had more invasive ideas, someone asked a roadie to go out to the van so she and her friends could get t-shirts before they went home, with no rock-star in tow. no stops at hotels. maybe next band. of course, i could be wrong, maybe she knew someone there, but that was the impression i got.
later, outside, pollard and others are packing up the van. the other guys are gone and we walk up as pollard is putting some equipment in. "gotta pack up and hit the next stop in the rock n roll circus", he says. "what animal are you?", someone asks (what circus animal, y'see...). long thoughtful pause. "an ELECTRIC EEL!", he almost shouts. the non-smoker hugged pollard a little too long, and then we started up the street.
©2008 G. Fling