I have come to not expect a big crowd at The Highdive when they host a concert.
Almost every time I have been there to see a notable band, the place is empty. Boston Spaceships last Thursday was no exception, even though lead singer Robert Pollard has been releasing records for over 20 years now.
For a person as prolific and, frankly, as well-known as Pollard (if you don’t know the name, maybe his former band, Guided by Voices, rings a bell), there should have been a better turnout. What people missed was a great rock show by Boston Spaceships.
Now, I know the last description may sound a bit generic, but there is no better way to describe it. Pollard is known for writing good, short rock songs, and Boston Spaceships’ debut album, Brown Submarine, has plenty of them.
Thursday’s show spotlighted plenty of the band’s material (from their new album and the new album, due in February), along with Pollard’s numerous other side projects and solo albums. He even threw in a couple of Guided by Voices tunes for good measure (“Tractor Rape Chain” was dusted off, and it sounded fantastic).
It was a treat the whole time. Since Guided by Voices broke up in 2004, Pollard has kept relatively quiet on the touring circuit. At age 50 though, he still has it (with a lot of Miller Lite and tequila helping him out), complete with microphone twirls and karate kicks that no other indie rock band could get away with.
Songs from “Brown Submarine” sounded fantastic live, and really brought out a celebratory mood. “Go for the Exit” was a highlight, and really energized the small crowd (who was really into it the whole time. For a small crowd, they really were dedicated, and knew every word to every song, both well-known and obscure).
Boston Spaceships (which also features John Moen, drummer for The Decemberists) also played a healthy dose of Pollard solo material, especially from his last one, “Robert Pollard Is Off to Business”. As opposed to the pop-punk sounding Spaceships, his solo album is heavily influenced by progressive rock.
Live though, it was all about the big guitars and catchy choruses, of which they were in abundance. Songs such as “Weatherman and Skin Goddess” were, for lack of a better term, epic, and the sound was much bigger than the small room The Highdive has.
Pollard knows what he is doing though, and while the set easily hit 30 songs, it never got old. Every move was exciting, and overall, for a man as prolific as Pollard, it was good to have him back. Come back soon, and here’s to hoping that more people show up for another triumphant return.

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