Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Better Days Will Haunt You": Chavez

Some screenshots from the goofy little tour film "Boys Making Music - Music Making Men" following the NYC band Chavez and the mighty Guided by Voices on their first (and in Chavez' case only) European tour in 1995. It's edited for the oddball moments, so that it's fun to watch and won't get boring for the casual viewer, though i suspect there's lots more vintage footage, especially of GBV in their first prime, and I could definitely watch this for hours. I saw that tour when it came to Brighton, The Amps (Kim Deals short lived low key Dayton band that featured future GBV players Nate Farley and Jim Mc Pherson) were supporting GBV and i guess were the main draw of the evening. And one thing i didn't realize was that that was the evening I saw Chavez too. I'm always going on about that evening i saw Guided By Voices without really knowing them and in their more or less original lineup. I need a Time Machine. 90s nostalgia, it's happening... So I remember i saw Chavez too at the Concorde at some point around that time but i didn't realize it was the very same night, they opened it up, it's the last piece of the puzzle so to speak. I remember liking them, thinking that there probably was some sort of low key little cult around them in New York. I couldn't put my finger on it, but they were good. Well, they released two albums on Matador and then more or less vanished but they were being talked about in their absence and briefly reformed to support GBV on their final tour in NYC (we missed most of their set as we got talking to good Blowfish people in the lobby, i need another time machine to revisit these glorious gigs). So Matador has always been amazing with their box sets and reissues, documenting the past in their own low key, resolutely indie and definitely generous ways. The GBV box set, 'Hardcore UFOs', is seriously great, i can't think of another label who could have done such a good job. then there's Pavement, the 2 disc DVD set, which I've watched so many times, the 'Slanted and Enchanted' and 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' reissues. So much material, and so nicely packaged too. Nerdy, but so what. It's a labour of love. All of these at a reasonable prize too. So now there's the Chavez Box set (!) with the two albums and a third DVD disc. I already pointed out the GBV connections, especially on the tour film, but i like the music too, it's crunchy, rocking, pretty fierce but with sweet hooks in there, definitely a grower too. In the liner notes Cosloy and Lombardi say these albums were Matadors top seller of the 90s and the best they ever put out. Maybe hyperbole? I can think of a few other albums. Anyway, it's a nice box set and it's recommended.

Some of the screenshots are from Berlin where they played at The Insel, in former East Berlin right by the river, on the little meadow in front of the venue. Behind the stage is a wall that has "Guided By Voices", "Chavez" and "Tocotronic" graffitied all over it. The Tocos were playing on the German leg of this tour (Time Machine, please :-) A German GBV fan I know was at that show. He didn't know GBV at that point either but remembered he really liked the music, it reminded him of the Beatles, however soon after GBV had started their set, a friend lead him away to, uh, smoke something, that took a while (ho hum) and when he came back they'd finished and he had missed most of the set.

The tour manager, Kris Lee, on this tour who is in some shots getting smoke blown into his face by the very stoned men of Chavez was also the tour manger on GBVs 2002 tour, i remember him driving the rock van on that fantastic tour.

In the end you see Everett True on stage at the Kings College gig in London, singing along to "Lethargy". He was at that Brighton show too, gently wigging out right next to me. A lot of people had left by the time GBV came on. Some people danced. They didn't play that long. I stayed til the end. Well, to say any more I'd need to go back. A couple of songs recorded at the show were released as "Brighton Rocks" on a promo single. The old Concorde has long been demolished and is now in a new location further down the seafront. Brighton rocks. Chavez rocks too. Better Days will haunt you, indeed.

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