The Shrine of Dig represents music that has made indelible impressions on our lives, both musically and personally. We plan to enshrine works and artists that stand out for any number of special reasons, from those glorious moments we first heard something captivating and new, through the continuous impacts of the music upon our lives. The induction ceremony involves multiple posts where we will both explore and pay tribute to the words and sounds which have been so important to us. In doing so, we share with you some music we believe is damn near infallible and absolutely worth listening to.
Prior to this year, none of us three Those Who Dig writers had seen Pavement live, nor even had the chance to, since we all started listening to them after they broke up. But this year, the band launched an extensive reunion tour. It is unlikely that there will be more tours in the immediate future or any new music produced, but the chance to see them just once was very exciting. Steve saw Pavement headline the Toronto Island Concert in June. Dave and Kyle saw Pavement on the last night of their four night stand in New York City’s Central Park just a few weeks ago at the end of September.
Well guys, since I already wrote about seeing Pavement, I thought it would be fun to compare my show with yours and ask you a few questions as my contribution to this collaborative live review piece.
Ironically, the NYC shows which were the first announced – the reunion initially was thought to be a one-off event – ended up being near the very end of the tour. You all got tickets when they went on sale, then had a potentially agonizing wait as months worth of shows suddenly materialized. Was it worth the wait? I know I had some doubts about seeing Pavement for fear of disappointment from my high expectations. As this whole shrine week shows, this is a huge band for all of us, but the hesitation proved to be really dumb because they were so incredible. Were you feeling similar at all? Did the show live up to what you had hoped?
How was Central Park as a venue? Were the opening bands good? I found Pavement’s setlists, and for the most part, our shows were similar, they just played the songs in a different order. You did get a second encore set, so three more songs than I saw. That, and they played “Frontwards” at your show, which I must admit makes me pretty envious. The song I heard you didn’t was “Two States” – not too shabby either. Was there anything you wanted to hear that wasn’t played? Aside from the omission of “Frontwards,” I dug the set. It covered all their albums and included a lot of my favorites.
I felt like just about every song was a highlight, so I won’t go too into detail, but how can I not mention that the main set ended with this run: “Here,” “Stereo,” “Two States,” “Gold Soundz,” “Range Life,” and “Summer Babe.” Whew! One of the things I dig most at a concert is when a song takes on a whole new level of significance or enjoyment. For me, that song was “Starlings of the Slipstream.” It really came to life and rocked hard. I have always loved its wordplay, so hearing thousands of others sing along was very cool. What were some of the highlights for each of you? Did any songs particularly strike you in a new way?
Seeing Pavement live was a fantastic experience for me. As a fan of the band, they really knocked it out of the park and gave me everything I wanted to see and hear.
I have never bought concert tickets as far in advance as this show. When I purchased these tickets I was not sure where I was going to be living, let alone if my travel/work/personal life would allow this concert, but the potential for a Pavement show existed, so I bought the ticket.
A year later, I lost the ticket.
I didn’t find my ticket until about 2 am the morning before the concert and about 6 hours before my bus from Baltimore to NYC.
The Central Park venue was much smaller than I expected and gave an intimate vibe to the whole evening. There was no one halfhearted in the crowd. The small size of the park stage made sure that everyone there went out of their way to share this experience.
As for the bands actual performance, I was struck by a just a few things that I didn’t anticipate. Primarily, Pavement has coined a sound that is both brash and sloppy, while remaining charming and orchestrated. Seeing them live made me realize that while they play sloppy and haphazard sounding music, but they do it so well that it is actually clean and really tightly organized. This was a cool realization about the definition of texture and technique.
Secondly, they performed with little interruption or conversation; the band riffled through their catalogue 4 minute masterpiece to 4 minute masterpiece. After the first leg of the show it occurred to me how little they were stretching out their legs or bothering to find a new voice in old material in this live setting. This is not a criticism, its just something I noticed during the performance. Maybe the band was still getting their rid of their sea legs and finding the rhythm of playing music together again.
As cliche as it is, I think their performance of “Summer Babe” was the highlight of the show for me. This was the last song performed before the encore and the emotional and aural crescendo that occurred here hit home in a big way. The set list that night was more than comprehensive, and apart from a few obscure back tracks, they played everything a fan would have wanted to hear.
This concert functioned in my life as a sort of existential bookend; I knew before the concert that Pavement was a band which represented a part and time of my life that is now over. Seeing them live was a sort of concluding chapter to our relationship, and although I am not retiring them from my record collection, I do feel as though this performance marked a new chapter in my own life.
Throughout high school I used Pavement as a means of amplifying most situations. Skateboarding in the street outside my house, driving to school or around town, learning entire albums of their material with TWD co-writer Steve, Pavement was always there in the background of my life. In college I still returned to these records when I needed them. In a way, this music has offered continuity and reassurance throughout the times of my life that defined the person I am today. When I accepted my current job as a high school music teacher, I drove to work for the first day while listening to Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. I mean, it really couldn’t have been any other record for that situation. After seeing them live, I felt as though I completed something, like the arch of my relationship with this band is now complete and they have given me, as a fan, everything I could asked for.
Thank you Pavement. I dig.