Ohio Rock Reunions: Guided by Voices and Party of Helicopters

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

What are the odds that two legendary Ohio underground rock bands from roughly the same era would play reunion shows within two miles of each other on the same night? It's happening Saturday, when Guided by Voices' reunion tour rolls into Outland mere hours before The Party of Helicopters lands at Carabar.

It's probably possible to see both bands, assuming you can obtain a ticket to the sold-out GBV show and assuming POH doesn't play until after midnight. But first, brush up on the basics with a quick history lesson.

Years active :

Guided by Voices: 1983-2004

The Party of Helicopters: 1995-2004

GBV existed in obscurity for a decade before the limited-edition albums "Propeller" and "Vampire on Titus" caught on with underground rock's elite. POH launched two years later.

City :

Guided by Voices: Dayton

The Party of Helicopters: Kent

Seemingly every rocker in the Dayton area had a stint with GBV, while POH exemplifies the incestuous Kent music scene with members of Harriet the Spy, New Terror Class, The Man I Fell in Love With, Drummer and Beaten Awake.

Signature sound :

Guided by Voices: Fragmented lo-fi pop

The Party of Helicopters: Emo-tinged shoegaze metal

Although GBV later adopted a sleek studio sound, the "classic '93-'96 lineup" of this tour yielded patchwork basement recordings like the ending suite from "Abbey Road" as heard on a tenth-generation dubbed cassette. POH had their rougher and smoother sides too, but they always framed Joe Dennis' melodic ranting in the hard and heavy trappings of punk and metal.

Wordplay :

Guided by Voices: Sloshed and surreal

The Party of Helicopters: Intelligent and perturbed

While GBV's Bob Pollard pours his non sequiturs as liberally as his beers, POH song titles stretch from the macabre ("Severed Head") to the riotous ("Always Walk Into a Room Expecting to Be Struck in the Face"), and sometimes both ("Like God, I Kill Indiscriminately").

Why reunite?

Guided by Voices: Label anniversary

The Party of Helicopters: Why not?

GBV resurrected for Matador Records' 21st birthday bash and tacked on some extra dates. POH had the bright idea to play some gigs for old times' sake as long as they're all still kicking around Kent.

What to hear :

Guided by Voices: 1994's "Bee Thousand"

The Party of Helicopters: 2002's "Space and How Sweet It Was!"

Both bands have expansive catalogs, GBV almost comically so. But for a quick primer, look to these classics. "Bee Thousand" stitches together grainy career highlights with fresh tracks. "Space" captures POH at their most potent convergence of post-hardcore fury and melodic songwriting.

Guidedby Voices

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16

Outland Live

95 Liberty St., Brewery District


The Party of Helicopters

10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16


115 Parsons Ave., Olde Towne East