Funny how Gen X used to mercilessly mock its predecessors for endlessly revisiting the Woodstockian ecstasies of its youth, as though nostalgia were a generational affliction instead of a universal symptom of aging. Now that the gray-bearding of Gen X has commenced, its members have proved no less immune to the impulse to revisit the pleasures of their gloriously misspent youth.
Exhibit A is Guided by Voices' sold-out "Hallway Of Shatterproof Glass Tour," which reunites the so-called classic lineup of the Dayton, Ohio, indie darlings for one more beery, fist-pumping, scissors-kicking sing-along of their underground anthems from the mid-1990s. The tour's stop at the Trocadero on Saturday night had been sold out almost since the moment it was announced months before.
Even in its heyday, Guided by Voices always seemed like a time/space anomaly, like the Bud-swilling protagonists of some alternative history of rock-and-roll wherein the Beatles crawl out of the industrial shadows of the Midwest in the early '90s instead of Liverpool in the early '60s, and trigger the incontinent mania of record-store clerks, rock critics, and college-radio DJs.
The old guard took the stage beneath a neon sign that declared "The club is open" (a lyric from "A Salty Salute" that has come to serve as the reunion tour's winking nod to those in the know that the good times are here again) and proceeded to take the giddy capacity crowd on a two-hour trip down greatest-hits lane: silvery-maned frontman Robert Pollard was in fine voice and high-kicking form; guitarist Tobin Sprout reprised his role as George Harrison to Pollard's Lennon and McCartney; bassist Greg Demos, on leave from his law practice, rocked his famous striped white pants; elfin Mitch Mitchell pirouetted through meaty power chords in a halo of cigarette smoke; and drummer Kevin Fennell kept things moving like a brick on the gas pedal.
Drawing liberally from the two albums - Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes - that will forever inhabit pride of place on any sentient person's list of the greatest rock albums of all time, GBV proved, at the very least, two things. First, that age really is just a number and the capacity to rock righteously is not limited to men in their 20s. Second, all these years later the songs still retain their considerable power to, as Pollard declared in "The Official Ironmen Rally Song," "trigger a synapse and free us from our traps."