“The Electrifying Conclusion”: The (first) final concert by the pioneers of the lo-fi revolution, Guided By Voices

By on November 4, 2016

The Electrifying Conclusion — currently streaming on Night Flight Plus — features the “final” show of one of indie rock’s most storied bands, Guided By Voices.

Recorded on New Year’s Eve 2004 at Chicago’s Metro, the show features Bob Pollard and company playing an almost four-hour show of hits, rock ‘n’ roll kicks, fan favorites… and plenty of beer.

Night Flight contributor Mike Vanderbilt talked to the concert film’s editor, Kevin McCullough, and tells us about his own first-hand experiences with the band he considers his ‘brothers.’

GUIDEDBYVOICES8

“This feels like the last album for Guided By Voices,” frontman and main songwriter Bob Pollard revealed of Half Smiles Of The Decomposed on the band’s website in 2004. “I’ve always said that when I make a record that I’m totally satisfied with as befitting a final album, then that will be it. And this is it.”

Guided By Voices played their “final” show on December 31st, 2004, which was recorded and released as The Electrifying Conclusion, now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

This is the full three-hour show, not the truncated version that ran on cable television in the late ’00s. Opening with ”Over The Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox” and then right into “Watch Me Jumpstart”, the entire 63-song, two-encore set list can be witnessed in all of its beer-drenched glory.

GUIDEDBYVOICES6

Guided By Voices was always known for their massive set lists and marathon shows, and The Electrifying Conclusion perfectly captures seeing GBV live during this era; the piss and puke buckets on the stage, the coolers full of beer, Pollard’s high-kicks and rock jumps, and for all the drinking and carrying on, the rock ‘n’ roll professionalism of the band is on full display.

A favorite part of any GBV live show is Pollard’s between song banter and general Midwest shit talking that inspired his 2005 “comedy” album Relaxation Of The Asshole. Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney, and the Pixies feel the wrath of “Uncle Bob.”

GUIDEDBYVOICES7

“Maybe I shouldn’t talk too fucking much, and get on with the rock ‘n’ roll,” questions Pollard before counting off “Glow Boy Butlers.” Anyone who has attended a GBV knows that hearing Pollard’s ranting is just as much fun as any of the songs in the set.

The show was taped on New Year’s Eve 2004, so it features a midnight countdown in the midst of all of the rock. Some of the highlights of the show are “Red Ink Superman” from Pollard’s solo effort Motel Of Fools, “Teenage FBI,” “Back To The Lake,” the Gillard-penned “I Am A Tree,” and “Don’t Stop Now,” the final song of the night, and “the ballad of Guided By Voices.”

Tickets for the show retailed for around $75 bucks and the kids certainly got their money’s worth.

GUIDEDBYVOICES4

Guided By Voices will always be remembered as pioneers of the lo-fi revolution. Those early recordings, with all their tininess, tape hiss, and flubbed beginnings and endings are wonderful, but live the band comes together as an arena rock powerhouse for the indie rock generation.

The Electrifying Conclusion is best enjoyed with a case of Miller Lite, a pack of Parliaments, and of course, played fucking loud.

GUIDEDBYVOICES13

“I was there that night at the Metro as well as the show the night before,” reveals Kevin McCullough, the editor on The Electrifying Conclusion.

A born and raised Midwesterner like the band, Kevin left Chicago for L.A. where he worked as an editor on several music videos.

McCullough:

“I had met Rich Turiel — GBV’s tour manager — through a mutual friend/fan Tony Franken. Rich drove us back from San Francisco to Los Angeles in his rental car; I spent the entire ride passed out in the back seat. Rich Knew I was a professional music video editor. I had already worked with the likes of KISS, Jimmy Eat World, and Godsmack at that point in my career and he seemed impressed.”

“Rich told me that they had hired some college students to shoot and edit the final GBV show and things were not going as planned,” McCullough explains.

“He asked me to look at their footage and help out. He offered me a small sum of money, but I refused to accept it. This was my opportunity to work on a video for my favorite band of all time. It was like a dream come true. I told him to waive my fee, just tell Bob Pollard to keep making records forever.”

GUIDEDBYVOICES15

Turiel sent McCullough a bunch of mini DV tapes of the show for him to digitize.

“Reliving a concert you may or may not have been too drunk to remember was a little weird,” says McCullough, “especially when I would catch glimpses of myself pogoing above the crowd like a crazy person.”

Before he started piecing together the final show, McCullough cut a trailer.

“I had the idea to cut it to the Ohio State Buckeyes fight song. The band was all big OU fans. Pollard said ‘wished he could have watched it in a movie theater.’”

GUIDEDBYVOICES17.jpg

While McCullough certainly had enough footage from the crew that Guided By Voices had hired, he wanted to pay tribute to the fans that gathered online and referred to themselves as the Postal Blowfish.

“All anyone had were flip phones with low resolution video at the time, but I managed to fit a few audience clips in there,” states McCullough. “I received plenty of beautiful photos — particularly from Terri Nelles — and used them for the credit montage at the end.”

“There was a shot of a lone indie rock chick kicking around plastic cups on an empty Metro floor that I used as the final shot,” explains McCullough. “I didn’t want that show to ever end and I think it shows in the final product.”

GUIDEDBYVOICES9

McCullough met Pollard a year later at a solo show in L.A.

“Bob heard my name was McCullough and called me ‘Chainsaw,’ not necessarily for my editing abilities, but because of his knowledge of power tools.”

“The Electrifying Conclusion” tour kicked off in the fall of 2004. Guided By Voices, or GBV as the fans chanted at the band’s drunked-up live shows, began in the small town of Dayton, Ohio in the early 1980s.

Fronted by Pollard, GBV played the local bars while members shifted in and out, Pollard remaining the constant.

GUIDEDBYVOICES14

A high school baseball player turned teacher kept his rock ‘n’ roll dreams alive, playing shows and recording a string of self-financed, independent releases that arguably kick started the Lo-fi movement.

GBV began to get some love on the college rock circuit. In 1994, Pollard released Bee Thousand, largely considered the band’s masterpiece on indie label Scat records with a distribution deal through big-time indie label Matador.

Guided By Voices signed to Matador records and the band members —Pollard, guitarists Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell, bassist in the striped pants Greg Demos, and drummer Kevin Fennel — quit their day jobs to live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

After Under The Bushes Under The Stars, the “classic lineup” of Guided By Voices dissolved.

Pollard continued the GBV name, bringing on Cobra Verde as the new GBV in 1997, including guitarist Doug Gillard. Ric Ocasek produced the band’s 1999 movie into “hi-fi,” Do The Collapse, and that’s when this writer fell in love with Guided By Voices.

GUIDEDBYVOICES3

It can be said that your favorite pizza, James Bond, or Dracula is probably the one you ate or saw when you were eleven.

For me, the 2000’s lineup of Guided By Voices was the be all, end all for live rock ‘n’ roll. Doug Gillard remained on lead guitar with new additions of Kevin March on drums, Nate Farley on rhythm and Chris Slusarenko on bass.

I was such a fan of the band I made every attempt to see them every chance I got, driving as far as Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky to get a dose or two of rock ‘n’ roll.

I ended up on stage with them because I resembled Ryan Adams, and made terrific friends, brothers and sisters in rock… but mostly brothers.

GUIDEDBYVOICES2

Mike Vanderbilt (right) with members of Guided By Voices

A GBV show in the 2000’s was certainly chock full of testosterone. I overheard one gentleman in the men’s bathroom line (and there was always a line) state that his girlfriend thought the fan base was some sort of homosexual cult. It could be assured though, if you met a girl at a GBV show, she was the coolest… and probably somebody’s girlfriend.

GBV’s last stand was going to take place over two nights at Chicago’s Cabaret Metro on New Years Eve. The show was hardly a somber outing.

The band was joined on stage by past members such as Tobin Sprout (who also opened the show), Greg Demos, and assorted members of the extended GBV family.

The beer bottles were flipped and cracked open with precision by Pollard and the gang as longtime friend and bartender Trader Vic Blankenship poured up shots from a bar on the stage left.

GUIDEDBYVOICES16

The Club was indeed open one last time, but closed up sometime around 2 A.M, with confetti and streamers littering the floor like Eddie Money’s video for “I Wanna Go Back.”

What most fans refer to as “the classic lineup” of Pollard, Sprout, Mitchell, Fennell and Demos reunited for a tour and recording in 2010.

After that GBV dissolved once again, both Kevin March and Doug Gillard from “The Electrifying Conclusion” era returned to the fold, joining Pollard, bassist Mark Shue, and guitarist Bobby Bare, Jr.

Pollard remains the voice that guides the band and the GBV faithful, and it would appear that the club will always be open.

GUIDEDBYVOICES12

The Electrifying Conclusion is now streaming on Night Flight Plus, where you’ll find even more live concert films.

GUIDEDBYVOICES1

About Mike Vanderbilt

Mike Vanderbilt is a freelance writer and contributor based on the south side of Chicago. He has written for The A.V. Club, The Chicago Reader, and Daily Grindhouse, tackling a variety of subjects ranging from Cheap Trick, George Lucas' Red Tails, and for better or worse he knows a thing or two about online dating. A bartender by trade, when not mixing cocktails, Mike hosts and produces the Drinks On Monday With The Strike Team podcast, as well as Revenge Of The Pod People. He can also be seen performing with his power pop band The Romeros and punk act Modern Day Rippers.