Pavement in the Park
So, I’m going to come clean and state for the record that I was vaguely familiar with the rock band Pavement when I received a care package from the band’s manager, Peter Arsenault last winter asking if Shure might be interested in supporting a reunion tour slated for 2010. Of course I’d heard the name and I’m certain a song or two had been played in my presence, but I felt like a stranger in a strange land when I tried to familiarize myself with their history and musical catalogue.
As it turns out, this was shaping up to be a pretty big deal in the music industry, as the band abruptly ceased to exist in 1999 after ten years of playing together. The fans had spoken and the band finally obliged, embarking on a world-wide tour which will continue through the fall of 2010. I learned pretty quickly how influential Pavement had been during their ten-year stint of playing music together, and I couldn’t resist the history behind this reunion. Moreover, the band’s engineers seemed to be pretty big fans of Shure, especially the KSM9 for Stephen Malkmus’ vocals.
I spoke with the Peter about the plans for the tour and was immediately connected with monitor engineer Jeremy Lemos who ran me through the input list for the stage… everything was a Shure mic, and Jeremy was adamant about using the KSM9 for vocals on stage; it was his one requirement prior to taking on the gig with Pavement.
The band had played Coachella earlier in the year and then ended up in Chicago for this year’s Pitchfork. I missed both shows, but had heard very positive feedback regarding the performances and the sound. Even to the most critical ear, the band never sounded better and was the tightest version of Pavement anyone had ever seen. Jeremy had mentioned that the band would be back in Chicago in September. I still had one last chance to experience the reunion myself.
On Monday, September 13th, 2010, I made my way to Chicago’s Millennium Park which is where the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is, the site for the last Pavement show in Chicago. Again, this was a whole new experience for me. I had lived in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs my whole life and had never been inside of Millennium Park. Sure, I’ve passed by on my way to some other destination, but never got close enough to get the full experience. I felt like a real tourist in my own town, checking the map to see where I was going, lugging along my baggage after I foolishly parked further away than I had anticipated. I finally made my way to the Pavilion and managed to get a hold of Jeremy who waved from the stage when he saw me. I marveled at the site of the pavilion as I walked down to meet him… the architecture is amazing and you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop for a concert. I mean there you are right in the middle of downtown Chicago, enjoying an evening of music surrounded by some of the most famous buildings in the world. Cool.
Jeremy helped me with my baggage and we headed onto to the stage, making our way towards one of the dressing rooms. On our way, we ran into Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg), one of the founding members of the band who thanked me for the great mics and all of the support during the tour. Jeremy led me to a small dressing room where Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Mark Ibold had been talking and casually keeping themselves entertained via their respective laptops. The guys made me feel welcome and moved their focus away from their electronics to engage in some casual conversation. Jeremy had left me alone with the band, obviously feeling the comfortable vibe in the room.
After a few minutes of talking about the venue, the city, family and music, it was decided that we should probably start getting some of this on tape. For the official interview, Malkmus and Nastanovich remained in the room, ready for my questions. I did my homework and researched the band then and now, but I still really wanted to hear their take on the situation. I mean, here’s a band that reunited after ten years, is not touring to support a new release, has no plans to record a new record, and had made it clear that this tour will end with the band going their separate ways with their separate projects. It’s a unique situation. One doesn’t want to dwell too much on the past or pry into the future, so we just stayed focused on the moment and the moment offered a lot to talk about. The video portion of this interview will appear on our MySpace and YouTube pages soon, stay tuned…
Once we finished up the interview with Nastanovich and Malkmus, it was time to get a little more technical and invite monitor engineer Jeremy Lemos and front of house engineer Remko Schouten to sit down in front of the camera. These guys are such fans of Shure, the thing came out looking like a commercial… I swear we did not script any of it. We’ll let you be the judge, their moment on camera will be coming soon as well.
As the opening band began to play through their opening slot, the venue began to fill with a mixed bag of Pavement fans, both young and old. Standing near monitor world as the band casually made their way from dressing room to stage, the crowd began to reach a fever pitch as Stephen Malkmus was now visible and seemingly inviting the other original members of Pavement to join him on stage.
The band began ripping through a list of fan favorites, and it seemed to just come so easy, almost effortless. They practiced for this. Nastanovich said Pavement never used to practice when they were a band ten years ago. The preparation showed and the Pavement faithful approved with the start and end of every song played.
The sound, as promised, was amazing and the band was very tight as was previously stated. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is an amazing place to see a show, especially at night with all of the city lights surrounding you. As the band neared the end of the set, Stephen Malkmus dedicated a song to Michael Dahlquist, a former employee of Shure who lost his life in a tragic car accident years ago. Not many people in the crowd caught that, but it was something that made the night complete for me.
The band went on to do two encores that night and before leaving the stage for the final time, Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs thanked Chicago, stating that we had always been good to them and that maybe we’d see them again in ten years. Maybe we will, but I’m glad I got to see things this time around.