Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cancelled Concert Review: Guided by Voices in Lawrence, KS

Cancelled Concert Review: Guided By Voices at the Granada
Lawrence, Kansas
“I just bought tickets to the Guided by Voices show” were words I never thought I would ever get to utter, much less twice. The first time I got to say them was in 2010 when GBV reunited. I impulsively found the closest city they were playing (Minneapolis) and bought tickets. I didn’t know anyone in Minneapolis, and I didn’t care. We were going. It was one of the best nights of my life, and Jenny and I were so charmed by the Twin Cities that we ended up moving there for a year and a half. Thanks, GBV.

The second time I got to say those aforementioned words was a couple months ago when I saw that GBV were touring in support of their latest reunion album Cool Planet (although it might as well be all six of the albums they have released since reuniting). I saw they were playing Lawrence, and my heart skipped a beat. Then I found my mother in law’s laptop and ordered tickets for me and my brother Ethan. All with a newborn baby on my lap, trying to ensure entry to the Promised Land and keep the little one from crying.

I proceeded to plan the next couple of months around that show. All anxieties were mitigated by the fact that very soon I would be seeing my favorite band for a second time. It was a minor miracle, I couldn’t wait. It was my Father’s Day gift to myself. Two days before the show, I got an e-mail from the ticket servicing site saying that my tickets would be refunded because the show had been canceled. My heart broke. I’ve had my heart broken a couple of times in the past, and this felt just like that. Real ache. Betrayal. All the hopes you had squashed like a bug under a steel toed boot. Right before starting a shift at work, no less. It ruined my day. Things seemed a little bit more dull. It was like the Christmas morning after the Grinch stole Christmas. There would be no burritos, there would be not playing catch in the park with my brother beforehand, there would be no jars of beer at Harbor Lights, there would be no fist pumping and celebrating with my Lawrence bros who understand the deep, metaphysical pull of Dayton Ohio’s Finest. Only the infinite sadness.

I want to think that it’s no one’s fault. Shit happens. These guys have personal lives, and I can only believe it was some sort of personal matter that would cause GBV to cancel a show. The more cynical part of my brain immediately went to “Well, if these guys stopped drinking so hard maybe they’d be up for playing! THEY’RE GETTING TOO OLD TO DRINK A BOTTLE OF TEQUILA ON STAGE EVERY NIGHT!” It makes it hurt a little more not getting an explanation. Just a “we’re not playing your town anymore.” I wonder if they didn’t sell enough tickets to warrant a stop in a small market that most bands usually ignore. It felt special that they were coming through Lawrence again (they came through last year, when I was still in Minnesota, and I heard stories from basically everyone I knew about how great it was. But then again, when would it not be great?).

Alas, a great day is lost and who knows if the date will be made up. I’m particularly “Aw man” about it because since becoming a dad, I basically don’t have time to go to shows anymore. It’s a trek to either Lawrence or Kansas City from out here in the sticks and I didn’t even make it to Larryville when the Hold Steady came through last April. AND I ALWAYS GO SEE THE HOLD STEADY NO MATTER WHAT (Note: I didn’t go out of solidarity, because my wife is just as big a fan as I am and it would have felt wrong singing along to all our favorite songs without her). It was going to be a day of existing as a dude, something I haven’t had in a very long time. Maybe this is what hell is like. You find out Guided by Voices is coming. You get yourself worked up. And then they cancel two days before the show. Fire, pitchforks, pff. Eternal Torture for me is the void where a classic night of rock and roll and drinking should have been.  

I’m going to choose to believe that Mitch Mitchell took a fistful of magic mushrooms and wandered off into the desert and it took them three days to find him. Or Bob Pollard needed a liver transplant. Or maybe he got arthritis from too many leg kicks, who knows. Those are viable excuses. If they cancelled because they booked a late night TV gig (which wouldn’t be the first time Lawrence was given the shaft because of Letterman, etc) or because they didn’t sell enough tickets, that’s some inexcusable shit. I mean, not inexcusable enough to cause my rabid GBV love to falter or to buy tickets the second they go on sale when if they make up this gig. I’m upset, but I just can’t stay mad at the greatest band of all time. Besides, seeing a band I never thought I'd ever get to see twice would be cheating the Gods.

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