Pavement Tour Diary: Four Days, Three Bands, and Two Countries (Part Two) | Bleader

Pavement Tour Diary: Four Days, Three Bands, and Two Countries (Part Two)

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Band 2: Pavement in Montreal

When I left off last week, I'd just finished an Iron & Wine benefit in Austin. I needed to get on a plane to Montreal, so after the show I had to keep going!

Checked out of the Driskill and dragged all my luggage to meet Spoon sound man Jeff Byrd for a coffee at Frank before my flight. I'd first met Jeff in a hotel bar in years ago in Portugal, and after a few glasses of nice but overpriced fortified wine we were fast friends. He's now one of the group of friends I see around the world in catering tents and at festivals and in hotel lobbies. This time I just happened to catch him while he was at home in Austin for a change.

Frank has some very nice people working there (the barista let me print out my Canadian work visa in her office), and after two drinks (cortado was king) I was in a taxi to the airport. I was headed to the Osheaga festival for the next three days. Pavement were playing Saturday, and Sonic Youth were playing Sunday. I've missed two Sonic Youth shows this year and that Saturday was one of them. When Sonic Youth played Prospect Park, Mark Ibold was in Canada with Pavement (along with me and SY's tour manager), which meant they couldn't play anything from the past ten years. For the fans (10,000 people showed up, I heard?) that translated to a face-peeling set of killer old songs. Man, I wish I could've been there! They brought Luc, their old monitor guy, up to NYC to fill in for me. He'd retired in 2003 after having a baby with Laura from Superchunk. Some guys have all the luck!

I had a five-hour layover at O'Hare, which wasn't that bad (it's the reason you have this story), and then I landed in Montreal. The airport there is massive and empty, and we were the only people in it at that hour. Got to the hotel super late and needed to hide from the locals as soon as I got out of the taxi. That neighborhood was pretty rockin' on a Friday night; everyone looked dressed up for some sort of strange adult prom (high heels, short skirts) and you could hardly walk down the sidewalk it was so crowded.

Woke up early to try to get a line check (if you can get one, it's really early in the morning, before the gates open) and headed over to the site. I'd heard that the catering at this festival was supposed to be great, so we stopped by before we went to work and it didn't disappoint. Chuck Hughes was catering for the bands and had a film crew around him almost constantly. There were girls in Ray-Bans making fantastic smoothies all day and dudes shucking oysters. Excusez-moi, would you like some poutine? Who am I to say no?

My first poutine of the day . . . Can you even say that?
  • My first poutine of the day . . . Can you even say that?

Candy, rolling papers, and condoms. Rock 'n' roll condiments.
  • Candy, rolling papers, and condoms. Rock 'n' roll condiments.
After our sound check we headed back to the hotel with a few hours to kill. White/Light played in Montreal during a snowstorm in January 2009 at the fabulous La Sala Rossa, and that's when I first found Café Myrayde. At that point they'd just opened, and the place was killer—I had to go back. A $20 cab ride and I was there again. You couldn't have asked for a nicer day to be outside drinking coffee in Montreal. It was the owner's birthday and he had the day off, and I dare say the coffee wasn't as great as when he was there.

A wonderful day at Cafe Myriade
  • A wonderful day at Cafe Myriade

There's kind of a rosetta in there . . .
  • There's kind of a rosetta in there . . .
Headed back to the festival site to see some bands and eat some more catering. (What in the heck is Cat Empire? Good lord, I know I'm on tour with a "90s reunion" band, but Polo-shirt-and-flip-flop ska with a scratch DJ onstage too? Oh, brother.) Pavement were fantastic until a dude threw an entire beer on Stephen during "Stereo." They didn't even throw the guy out! He handled it like a champ and the show did indeed go on. Arcade Fire followed us for their huge hometown set. They'd spent 12 hours the day before setting up their stage, and it did look pretty good.

Arcade Fire was great.
  • Arcade Fire was great.
We split early to try to beat traffic and find a little more poutine. We ended up at the Montreal Pool Room, which despite its name served steamed hot dogs and poutine. Note: after standing in line for 15 minutes, don't get overzealous and order a large poutine unless you want to feel horrible the next day.

Montreal Pool Room
  • Montreal Pool Room

Steamed dogs? It's a Montreal thing.
  • Steamed dogs? It's a Montreal thing.

It took three people to even come close to taking this one down.
  • It took three people to even come close to taking this one down.
Band 3: Sonic Youth in Montreal

I had high hopes for a sound check for Sonic Youth, since I hadn't done a show with them since in January. We had the stage from 9 AM till 11 AM to do what we wanted, and that's the royal "we" because none of the rest of the band or crew was going to land until later that afternoon. So I fought off my poutine hangover to wait for the gear to clear customs. Surprise! All of our backline was stuck in customs and wouldn't be there anywhere near our sound-check time. Bummed I was up so early for no reason, I decided to bury my sorrows in blueberry smoothies. Seu Jorge was the first band on our stage that day, and he was the perfect thing on a Sunday afternoon. He played some of his songs, some Brazilian classics, and a cover of "Ziggy Stardust." I'd see him again anytime.

Seu Jorge is a badass even when he's playing the flute.
  • Seu Jorge is a badass even when he's playing the flute.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready in between bands and fighting for space to work on this "small" stage. When Weezer is playing after you, they can eat up a lot of space getting all of their gear set up. Their drum riser was ten feet tall! We had an hour to get Sonic Youth ready while Snoop Dogg was playing the opposite stage. I had no idea that he could play for an hour and I'd know every song? He covered House of Pain's "Jump Around" and the crowd ate it up. Who knew it was so easy to get thousands of Quebeckers to yell "Fuck the police!" Didn't even get to see the Sonic Youth folks until they were walking onto the stage to play. I haven't laid eyes on these folks in over six months and all we had was "How are you doing? Oh yeah? How does it sound out there? Pretty good today? OK, see you after the show!" And on they went. This set was almost all the "new" record.

They played a great show, we packed up, and I grabbed a beer and a ride on a golf cart to go catch the end of Devo. I saw the ending of "Beautiful World" with Booji Boy singing (it was their last song) and jumped on another golf cart (it's how you get around on festivals like that), where I sat between Aaron who does front-of-house sound for Sonic Youth and Emily Haynes from Metric. I'd previously been able to watch a little of her set from the TV monitor while we were packing our semi truck, and she looked larger than life and a little like Kim Gordon. She seemed down to earth now, except she still had gold sparkles on her face from when she was onstage. She must have rushed right over to catch the end of Devo. We went back to the artist trailers and had a couple of drinks with the Metric folks, and I can say I hope it's not my last time hanging out with them. When they found the second bottle of gin in the freezer, though, we thought it was time to call it a night. As we headed out of the festival I thought I heard Weezer covering Lady Gaga, but it may have been all the poutine talking.

Back soon with a post about Pavement's show in Millennium Park this week! See you there?

Jeremy also posts on Twitter and is probably on the road right now. . . .

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