Big Dipper digs out smart-alecky songs at Iron Horse in Northampton

Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard once paid a weird compliment to Big Dipper, declaring them the 20th greatest band of all time, and the Boston indie-rockers returned the favor on their latest album with “Robert Pollard.” The song figured into their set Thursday night at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, along with more than a few other tunes from the band’s 2012 album “Big Dipper Crashes on the Platinum Planet.”

That LP was the group’s first collection of new material in more than 20 years, though some things never change: Big Dipper has a quintessential pre-Internet college-rock sound, full of jangling guitars and jittery rhythms on winking, smart-alecky songs. The musicians were clearly enjoying themselves onstage during a set that stretched slightly past an hour and 21 or so songs. Singer and guitarist Bill Goffrier was given to acting out the tunes with gestures and, on one song, a letter he pulled from his back pocket that he claimed was an update written by the subject of the lyrics.

Big Dipper cruised through “Platinum Planet” opener “Lord Scrumptious,” made room for a big, ripping solo from guitarist Gary Waleik on “We’re All Going Out Together” and turned over lead vocals to drummer Jeff Oliphant on “Princess Warrior” and the friends-or-lovers query “Edith,” which featured three-part harmony on the refrain. The songs were occasionally self-referential — “Robert Pollard” also mentions Waleik (and, for that matter, Paul McCartney) — and frequently funny: the band offered to buy drinks for the 16th president over a grunge-y bassline on “Hey! Mr. Lincoln,” and, after wryly asking “What do you get for the man who ruins everything?” on “New Machine,” Goffrier answered, “I think I’m easy to shop for.”

After ending their main set with “Ron Klaus Wrecked His House,” Big Dipper came back for a two-song encore.

Fountains of Wayne singer Chris Collingwood opened the show with a solo set supported from the Hartford-area band the Shinolas. Amid Fountains of Wayne tunes including “Valley Winter Song” and “Radiation Vibe,” Collingwood said he’s working on a solo album, musing, “So far, it kinda sounds like half a Fountains of Wayne album.”

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