One side effect of being an obsessive fan of a particular band is that you’re all too willing to engage in behavior that almost everyone you know views as totally insane. You know, like driving ten hours from Brooklyn to Dayton, Ohio, to attend an obscure annual event called Heedfest.
Heedfest is super-boozy weekend festival named after Mike Lipps, a large-craniumed crony of musician Robert Pollard, who is best known as the driving force behind the prolific indie band Guided By Voices. It is largely an excuse for the more rabid constituents among Pollard’s fanbase to descend upon the town in which he has lived much of his life and drink vast quantities of beer within spitting distance of the man himself. Sure, there are Pollard-related cover bands that play, and also a chartered bus tour that whizzes by memorable sights from his life and lyrics. But let’s be honest: Heedfest is really about the experience of acting like an idiot in close proximity to a hero.
Another reason to attend is the very real possibility that Pollard, who has toured as a solo artist and with his newest band, Boston Spaceships, only sporadically since breaking up Guided By Voices in 2004, will get up on stage, possibly with some of the other former members of GBV, and that true magic will happen, as it did at the first iteration of Heedfest back in 2007.
This year, nothing quite as mind-blowing happened, but Pollard did get up on stage more than once to run through a few old hits. Here’s a video I shot of Pollard performing GBV’s 1995 gem “Motor Away” with the Textbook Committee, a shockingly great tribute band from Chicago. I apologize in advance for the extreme closeup near the end.