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state champs tour diary pt2



Date: Tue, 13 Jun 1995 11:07:41 -0300
From: "James R. Covey" <JRCOVEY\!/AC.DAL.CA>
Subject: state champs tour diary pt2
To: Sloan Net <jrcovey+sloan\!/ac.dal.ca>
MIME-version: 1.0

MONDAY MAY 15

	we hit the road, heading for providence.  
three of the champs go in the rental; yan, catano, 
and i go in yan's car.  we were supposed to meet 
up in the "hip" area of town -- "bayer street" or 
"sayer street" or something.  no one really knew 
or bothered to check.  we never found it, the 
other guys did.  it turned out to be "thayer 
street."  yan and catano i end up wandering 
around the financial district of providence, 
weaving through all the office buildings.  the 
place seems deserted.  we stop for coffee and then 
walk some more.  around 6pm we head over to the 
concert venue, "lupo's heartbreak hotel."  
pavement are on stage, soundchecking.  we can't 
believe our luck.  they do "rattled by the rush" 
(a song which they don't perform at that night's 
concert).
	after they finish we meet bob nastanovich. 
he's totally friendly.  when he finds out that we 
drove down from halifax to see pavement he puts us 
on the guest list, and offers to let yan recharge 
his video camera backstage.  while backstage, yan 
helps steve malkmus figure out that the door he is 
trying to open is locked.  :-)  we sell our 
tickets for $10 each to kids waiting outside, and 
walk back in as pavement's guests.  woo-hoo!  
	the opening acts were dirty 3 and come.  
dirty 3 blow.  there's no way of getting around 
it.  i just cannot understand why there is 
starting to be an indie buzz around this band.  
it's a trio:  drummer, guitarist, violinist.  no 
vocals.  the songs are all instrumentals, long 
ones.  they do four numbers, and the violinist has 
to give explanations of what the songs are 
"about," or at least he seems to think so.  the 
"explanations" are *so* lame:  "this is about a 
friend of ours who died, and now we can't have a 
beer with her any more, and that's not cool."  
ouch.  throughout the songs the violinist, in his 
tight white jeans, turns toward the drummer and 
shakes his rump at the audience, pumping his fist 
in the air when he's not fiddling.  i don't think 
we should forgive them just because they are from 
australia.  :-)
	come were really great.  thalia zedek's 
voice is just as powerful live as you would expect 
from their records.  they did stuff from both 
albums and some new songs.  the arrangements of 
the songs, though, didn't vary a smidgen from what 
they are on the records.  so even though the band 
was completely equal to reproducing their amazing 
studio performances, they didn't go beyond that in 
the set.  so i guess the only thing that surprised 
me about come was that they didn't surprise me.
	pavement were simply amazing.  from the 
moment they started that guitar doodling at the 
beginning of "grounded" i knew it would be a great 
gig.  they slowly built up the intensity of their 
show over the first five songs, and hit a high 
point with "at&t" followed by "cut your hair."  
they did a *lot* of the songs on _wowee zowee_ and 
i found that some songs i hadn't paid much 
attention to really came to life.  in fact, there 
was hardly a song they did that wasn't an order of 
magnitude better than the recorded versions.  it's 
obvious they've put a lot of effort into their 
live arrangements.  pavement's stage set-up was 
kind of interesting -- everything's arranged to 
make things easier for malkmus.  :-)  he gets to 
face the rest of the band, and he just kinda 
stands there and strums and sings most of the 
time.  it's the other members of the band who jump 
around, and especially bob nastanovich, who seems 
to be sort of a cheerleader.  his job seems to be 
to hype the crowd up.  he shakes tambourines and 
shakers, screams into a mic at various appropriate 
moments (even does some of the screaming that 
malkmus does on the studio versions), plays his 
moog and sometimes does some drumming.  he's 
pavement's utility player.  :-)
	they threw a couple of old nuggets into their 
set: "summer babe" and "shoot the singer."  but the 
most amazing performance as far as i was concerned 
was "fight this generation."  it was *so* much better 
than the _wowee zowee_ version, just incredibly 
dramatic.  and then the pairing of "range life" with 
"serpentine pad" in the encore was pretty inspired 
too.
	after the gig we approached spiral stairs 
and gave him a state champs t-shirt, which 
(apparently coincidentally) features a chair 
designed by his favorite architect, or so he told 
us.  he also agreed to do a video interview by 
mail for catano.  
	
TUESDAY MAY 16
	
	we hit the road again, this time bound for 
the big apple.  we enter manhattan around noon.  
in the process of driving all over manhattan 
looking for our hotel, i see lots of landmarks for 
the first time:  the u.n., times square.  
eventually we check into the ramada.  six of us in 
a room booked for three.  no one ever calls us on 
that while we're there.  there's two double beds 
so two people have to sleep on the floor.  so here 
i am in manhattan for the first time in my life, 
and what do i do?  take a nap.  meanwhile, the 
guys head off to guitar shops and the empire state 
building.  after two hours of sleep i head out to 
times square.  i go into mcdonalds and buy a big 
mac (something i never do in halifax) and i sit in 
the best 2nd-floor window seat and just look out 
at all the signs and all the people in the square. 
	that evening there's a pavement show 
around the corner from the hotel.  everyone has a 
ticket except for me -- i joined this tour after 
the new york show had sold out.  i try my luck 
with the scalpers.  the lowest i can get them to 
go is $40.  someone tries to sell me a ticket for 
$70.  i laugh at him.  i say $30.  he laughs at 
me.  oh well.  i go back to my hotel room and 
watch the hockey game and read my novel and write 
in my diary.  i realize that at this moment i 
actually appreciate the rest more than i would the 
show.  once is enough for me.
		
WEDNESDAY MAY 17

	we head out en masse about noon, on foot.  
after a walk through central park we arrive at the 
guggenheim, but most of it is closed for 
renovation.  we visit the two floors that are 
still open and i see a kokoschka called "knight 
errant" that captures my imagination.  
	we take the subway south to the village.  
we look around for the jay-ferguson-recommended 
record shops.  kim's underground is pretty cool.  
they have lots of 7" singles but i hardly 
recognize any of the bands.  then we go to this 
store called "generation records."  for not being 
an indie shop, it's pretty cool -- no vinyl, but 
lots of rare cds: bootlegs and stuff.  wayne buys 
a pavement live bootleg.  i buy superchunk and 
stereolab cds.  quicksand is playing when we walk 
in, later it's the melvins.  the posters in the 
display window: ramones, clash, smiths, cure.  
there's a multiply-pierced boy in black running 
the register and i see him offer a smoke to a 
street person who walks in.  they seem to know 
each other, this seems to be a regular ritual.
	we visit a "hip" clothing shop called 
"andy's cheepees" which is way out of our price 
range.  we also stumble across kim's west, a 2nd 
location of kim's underground, where andy finds 
himself a pavement t-shirt.  then, we found 
another indie store that had the best t-shirts 
yet: archers of loaf, pavement, shellac.  i 
finally get a pavement t-shirt in the design that 
i like (they weren't selling them at the 
providence gig, but the guy selling them was 
wearing one).  the guy at the store, which was 
called "rocks in your head," apparently drums for 
azalia snail.  but then, who doesn't.  
	when we get back to times square that 
evening, we have some of the best pizza i've ever 
tasted.  then we all crowd back into the hotel 
room.  this, of course, is the appropriate moment 
to debate art and interpretation.  the four-way 
argument/discussion that ensues from yan asking me 
to define "stream of consciousness literature" 
threatens to drive both andy and wayne crazy.  
after that peters out, the topic switches over to 
religion and catano, who's well versed in 
philosophy of religion it seems, has some really 
insightful things to say.  it occurs to me that 
we're all pothead philosophers without the pot.  
that's life on the road with a straight-edge band.


THURSDAY MAY 18

	late in the morning jon and andy and 
myself head for the MoMA (museum of modern art).  
they have a bruce naumann exhibit on, and david 
bowie is on site to check it out.  when i spot 
him, the guy he is with is sketching a sculpture, 
and some teenage girls walk up and, without asking 
permission, take a photo of bowie and then run off 
giggling.  
	seeing my favorite seventies rock star, 
though, was not nearly as thrilling as seeing my 
favorite painting, _vir heroicus sublimis_ by 
barnett newman.  i spent some time just standing 
there and looking at it.  meanwhile, jon had found  
his precious mondrians and was experiencing the 
same sort of thrill.  there's also plenty of van 
goghs and picassos and yes, more kokoschkas.  i'm 
starting to really like this painter's work, even  
though i don't know much about art and i'd never heard 
of him before this trip.
	on the way back to the car that afternoon, 
we stopped by the rockefeller centre.  it was our 
last major landmark visit before we left town.  is 
it true that there's a wider rich-poor gap in 
manhattan than in guatemala?

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