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A whirlwind of good times all day for the hometown show. Well, at least my hometown . . .
It all started with a long bus ride from St. Paul, and I woke up at 9 AM as we were pulling up near Millennium Park. The rest of the crew were still asleep, so I jumped out at a stop light to a perfect day in Chicago. The kind of day that you wait for all year. We have the best weather in the world now—too bad it's only for a few days! Today, I had a motive to get up and off the bus. I hadn't seen my wife, Gwen, in two weeks, and Intelligentsia was such a nice place to meet her. I only had an hour before we had to start working, so we grabbed coffee for the crew and walked back to Millennium Park to start setting up the stage for the show.
Wow. You've seen this place, right? I mean, it's incredible! How often do you get to do a show in a venue designed by Frank Gehry?
It takes us about four hours to set up all the lights, the sound system, the band's back line, and all of my monitors. I've really fallen in love with the new console I've taken out on tour with me (the Digidesign Venue), with the monitor wedges (D&B M2s, which are loud) and all Shure mikes. Shure hooked us up with mikes and they wanted to interview a couple band members and the sound crew. Remko Schouten is Pavement's original sound man, and they brought him out of "retirement" (read: a recording studio) and over from the Netherlands to do sound for them again.
We had a uneventful sound check, and afterward Remko and I had a production meeting with the Colbert Report folks and then got video interviewed by Shure. Gads, where is my tie? We had little lavalier mikes and everything! Not looking forward to that one, it's going to be embarrassing for sure!
This gave me just enough time to run back to Intelligentsia once more before No Age and try to answer 30 texts from friends trying to get into the show.
No Age were great (they always are) and I saw Pavement backstage going over what songs to play that night. There have been a couple of guest cowbell players over the years, and I really wanted to jump up there at Pitchfork but I chickened out. As Dan the tour manager was printing up the set lists I saw "Silence Kit" was going to be the first song. You know, the song with the huge cowbell intro . . . The huge "party is getting started" anthem . . . Oh man, should I do it? What if I could I get Gwen to do it with me? She (and I) would be terrified but wouldn't it be a blast? I found Bob backstage and asked if it was all right, and he was into it. He had two cowbells for "Team Lemos" all ready to go.
No Age ended two minutes late; they only had a half-hour set and are used to playing 45. We had to keep the times tight 'cause there was a hard curfew, but more on that later. We usually build some extra time into the changeover in case something goes wrong. The whole time I'm thinking, What am I doing? I've heard "Silence Kit" like 100 times this year, but when I walked out there would I even remember how it went? As the lights went down Gwen asked me, "How much time do I have to get ready before we go on?" I told her to put down her drink 'cause she was walking out with the band right now! I saw the nervousness flood her face, then a big smile and I knew it would be OK.
As I walked back to my "normal" position at stage left, I settled back into my regular "day" job. The set was a great one and (dare I say) they were much better than they were at Pitchfork. The only hitch of the night was we had a ten o'clock curfew. A hard curfew means the band can't go over time at all. Really, not one second or you will get this massive fine. The tour manager wouldn't tell me a number, but he implied that the fine was so huge it would be better to not have played the show at all than play until 10:01 PM. The band seemed not to care as they came out for their third encore at 9:49! I had visions of our tour manager and Mayor Daley tackling Stephen Malkmus. But they finished "Range Life" and walked off the stage at 9:59.
I put away my microphones, played the hometown card*, and took off with the band to Gage for some aftershow drinks and food. We showed up as the kitchen was closing, but they kept it open for us. Incredible place, wonderful space, great people and food. We had a bunch of small plates, big plates, drinks, and bar snacks. A Pavement fan even sent over a bottle of prosecco! (Now that's class!) An hour later, as our bill got close to $800 (I'm serious) and the time got close to 1 AM, I started thinking about having to get up at 6 AM to ride on the bus to Milwaukee, so Gwen and I jumped in a cab and I got to spend five glorious hours in my own bed.
Needless to say when the alarm went off the next morning I didn't quite leap out of bed to get back on the bus with the rest of the crew. We were headed to the Pabst Theater; the last time I was there it was with Iron & Wine doing a solo show and the entire production fit in the trunk of a taxi. Now it was time for Pavement with two buses and a semi truck? But, that's another story . . .
* When you do a show in your hometown (and your crew is cool), your coworkers will help you get done faster and load the truck for you so you can hang out with your significant other. This doesn't work if everyone is from the same town, of course, but it's great when you're all from different places.
Jeremy also posts on Twitter and is probably on the road right now. . . .