Like the career of Guided By Voices itself, the DVD The Devil Went Home And Puked is a beautiful mess. The footage comes from the archive's of GBV main-man, Robert Pollard, and is assembled in roughly chronological order from 1994 to date.
Guided By Voices were initially regarded as leading exponents of the lo-fi movement, popular in the early Nineties. The DVD reflects this low to no-budget approach, with most of the material seemingly originating from friends' camcorders. It suits the music perfectly, as GBV really were dedicated to the DIY aesthetic.
What becomes a little frustrating is the “video collage” manner in which the DVD was put together. There are segments in here that are simply confusing for the casual fan such as myself. For example, what is the significance of the newscast segments about the Boston University hockey team? I am sure there is a reason this material is included, but it is beyond me. And watching the perky news team’s banter adds exactly zero to my enjoyment of Guided By Voices.
Fortunately, that type of stuff is kept to a minimum, and is a minor quibble. Far more exasperating is the snippet format itself. There is so much tantalizing footage, from live appearances to actual produced video, that you just want to see them all the way through. I realize that The Devil Went Home And Puked is Robert Pollard’s project; and who am I to criticize the master’s artistic choices? But still.
This situation is somewhat rectified in the bonus section, which features nine full-length videos. Particularly effective are the ones for the classic “Best Of Jill Hives,” and also “Shadow Port.”
There is a performance piece inspired by the GBV song “Gold Star For Robot Boy,” included as well. Your tolerance level for anything calling itself "a performance piece" should tell you whether you will love or hate this. Finally, there is a section titled “Loving Memories” which reflects on all of the members who passed through Guided By Voices over the years 1983-2004.
The Devil Went Home And Puked is definitely geared toward the serious Guided By Voices fan. I am not sure how much a novice will get out of this. The music is great, as always. But the format is a little tough to follow unless you already know the material. As a vision straight from the head of Robert Pollard though, The Devil Went Home And Puked is a worthy curio.