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Plexifilm presents
Guided by Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion (2004)

Woke up/on hell of a morning/and saw a rooster strutting by my house/ six pack rings around his neck/cock of the block/don't stop now/don't stop now
- Bob Pollard (singing)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: December 15, 2005

Stars: Bob Pollard, Doug Gillard, Nate Farley, Chris Slusarenko, Kevin March
Other Stars: Beatle Bob, Trader Vic, Jim Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Jim MacPherson, Don Thrasher, Jim Greer, Matt Sweeney, Jon Wurster
Director: Not listed

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains language and lots of drinking)
Run Time: 03h:54m:00s
Release Date: November 15, 2005
UPC: 082354003128
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-BB+ C+

DVD Review

During the early years of this decade, Dayton's indie rock heroes Guided by Voices (GBV) continued to crank out pop hooks while delivering lengthy, often drunken concerts. But it became clear that frontman Bob Pollard's dream of attaining rock stardom was not going to happen. The likable guys had developed a significant cult following over the years and could fill clubs across the country. Their shows often lasted more than three hours, and fans could not complain that writer and vocalist Pollard, guitarists Doug Gillard and Nate Farley, and their bandmates were living on past success. This fact helps to explain the considerable surprise that occurred within the music world when Pollard announced that GBV would break up following a 2004 New Year's Eve concert at the Metro in Chicago.

Guided by Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion depicts the long-running band's final show, which offers a diverse setlist that should please fans of any era. During the nearly four hour show, GBV cranks out 63 songs, including familiar singles and much older rarities rarely presented in the concert setting. Prior to the music, we meet observe fans waiting outside and getting excited about catching one last night of rock. Next comes a short video that present numerous photos chronologically to the tune of Window of My World. This film also contains silly shots of birds and clouds in a self-mocking style. St. Louis concert staple Beatle Bob appears to introduce the five bands members, calling them the "world's greatest pop phenoms" in overly drawn-out comments. The stage setting is typical GBV, with Trader Vic manning a bar onstage, a sign overhead stating that "The Club is Open," and buckets marked for "puke" and "piss" resting near the drum set. Clad in a typical long-sleeved dark shirt and sporting a head of now completely gray hair, Bob Pollard leads the crowd in the classic intro chant of "GBV! GBV!" to Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox—the opener of 1992's Propeller album. This memorable track gets the crowd moving and begins the lengthy swan song for the entertaining group.

The concert's early moments immediately shine due to the two quick rockers Watch Me Jumpstart and Pimple Zoo from 1994's Alien Lanes record. Many guest musicians and pals will grace the stage during the evening, including a very drunk friend who joins Bob to chant the beginning of Lethargy. An intriguing moment involves former band member Tobin Sprout, who joins Bob to sing his track 14 Cheerleader Coldfront. The show does stall following the New Year's countdown, which involves numerous balloons that must be cleared from the stage. The considerable period of chaos and no music does slow down the performance's flow, but it does pick up fairly quickly. Beatle Bob returns to do his annoying signature dancing on My Kind of Soldier, which induces laughs from the frontman that make singing difficult. Several drummers, including Superchunk's Jon Wurster (for I Am a Tree) also rotate in for a few tracks and keep the intensity rolling during the middle segments. Bob even takes a seat at Trader Vic's bar during Drinker's Peace, a sad, especially rare track that offers a poignant moment.

Guided by Voices' final concert offers far too many highlights (and some drunk lowlights) to mention during a single review. The band deserves tremendous credit for giving it their all in the last show and not simply moving through the hits. The setlist does include I Am a Scientist, Motor Away, and Teenage FBI, but it also contains Chief Barrel Belly, Johnny Appleseed, and He's the Uncle. The performance concludes with two lengthy encores covering 16 songs that rank among their most memorable tunes. By this point, everyone is pretty drunk and the hooks are very sloppy, but the fun still exists. The final tune played during GBV's 21-year career is Don't Stop Now, which reflects the prevailing opinion of numerous fans around the world.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Guided by Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion offers a full-frame transfer with varying degrees of quality depending on the camera utilized. Certain shots match the premier concert releases, which others come closer to amateur footage. A significant amount of grain does appear on certain images, but they fail to distract considerably from the performance. The various pictures do provide some effective views of all the band members and the audience enjoying the concert.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: This disc's 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer offers a solid representation of GBV's concert sound, but it falls a bit short of my lofty expectations. The audio is a bit muffled, but that aspect is common even during their better shows. I would have loved to hear a more complex, remastered soundtrack, but cannot complain too strongly about this entertaining track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 63 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Half Smiles of the Decomposed Demos (two songs)
  2. Live at the Antenna - January 14, 1994 (four songs)
Extras Review: This release includes a few notable supplements that should please GBV fans, but it falls short of offering any stunning extras. The Half Smiles of the Decomposed demos showcase Bob Pollard crafting the bare bones of two excellent tracks from the band's final album. The sound quality for both tunes (Girls of Wild Strawberries and Window of My World) is surprisingly clear throughout the songs. The other bonus is live footage from an early concert at the Antenna in Memphis on January 14, 1994. The rocking performances of Break Even, Cruise, Some Drilling Implied, and White Whale are rough and recommended solely for diehards. The awful picture does convey the feeling of watching a show from the back of a small club, which should bring back some fond memories for longtime fans. The packaging also includes liner notes from WFMU-NJ Radio DJ Tom Scharpling discussing the last show and a full, poster-size setlist.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

I've attended numerous Guided by Voices concerts during the past 10 years, and while the quality level varied considerably depending on the lineup and quantity of alcohol consumed, they always gave a strong effort. Bob Pollard's amusing personality, high kicks, and abundant drinking embodied the working-class side of rock that drew many fans into the fold. The Electrifying Conclusion chronicles a fitting end for a band that never reached the pinnacle of rock stardom but charmed a a solid gang of music lovers along the way.


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