With a film by Robert Longo: Pictures for Music (1979)
30 January 2007
Electric guitars:
Rhys Chatham
David Daniell (San Agustin, Essentialist)
David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire to Flames)
Chris Burns (Crackpot)
Jonathan Cummins (Bionic, Doughboys)
Harris Newman (solo guitarist, Grey Market Mastering)
Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mount Zion)
LoU (Lady LoU)
Electric bass: Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mount Zion)
Drums: David Payant (Ideal Lovers)
House engineer: Sylvain Côté
Tour recording engineer: Eric Block (Semaphore Recording Studio)
Tour manager: Regina Greene of Front Porch Productions
We had a long drive from Boston to Montreal, it took about 6 hours. We were a bit nervous at the border with all our equipment and tour merchandise, but Regina had completed all the necessary paperwork, so we were passed through customs with no problems and made our way directly to the performance venue, La Sala Rosa.
La Sala Rossa is in a two story building, which houses a Spanish restaurant and bar on the downstairs level. When we went upstairs, we found a high-ceilinged ballroom where one can do the tango on Thursday evenings, and on other nights listen to free jazz and other forms of experimental music.
La Sala Rosa was founded four years ago by Mauro Pezzente and booked by Peter Burton and Steve Guimond, who run the Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival, which occurs in June. The concerts were originally produced in a bar across the street, but eventually the concert series proved such a success that Mauro needed to find larger digs, and now the series continues in both venues.
When we arrived all the musicians were there, set up and ready to go, so David and I added our Fender Twins to the backline and we started the rehearsal.
The way G3 works is to start playing on the low E string of the electric guitar, flat-picking directly over the fret board, thus eliciting various overtone sets depending upon which area of the fret board one is flat-picking over. So at the start of the piece, I enter with the drummer, bringing the individual musicians in one by one. For example, I will play along with the drummer for 16 bars or so and then bring David Daniell in, and we play a duet together for 16 bars. Then I bring the next player, in this case it was David Bryant. So we at that point have a trio going for 16 bars. Then Chris Burns entered, turning the piece into a quartet, and so on.
Everything was going fine and the overtones ringing out gorgeously until the point where I had brought in the 10th guitarist. It occurred to me at that precise moment that things were getting a bit loud on stage. Quite loud in fact. I shuddered to think of what the amplitude level would be like when we got to the 6-string section, where we play on 6 open strings. So I stopped the rehearsal and we all turned our amps down by two notches or so, which appeared to do the trick.
It was interesting to note the quantum difference in both sonority and volume between playing with 6 electric guitars and playing with 10 of them, as we did in Montreal. This was the largest number of musicians we had played with so far on the tour, as large in terms of the Brooklyn performance. Except in the Brooklyn performance we had a number of 50-watt amps, which everyone had to adjust downwise to as far as volume was concerned. At the performance in Montreal most everyone had an amp of at least 100 watts. We spent some time working on the stage sound to get it to a comfortable level.
After the sound check, the venue provided a wonderful Spanish dinner for the band members, accompanied by a delicious Spanish red wine. Thus refreshed, everybody went backstage to tune their guitars.
One of the reasons I love coming to Montreal is because French is spoken here, and the accent is rather special. I live in Paris, and I am told that to a continental francophone, the accent sounds a bit the way French was spoken in the 18th century. And of course the language has evolved, similar to the way different words are used in American and British English, for example the British say "lift" and folks from the USA say "elevator.” There are similar differences between Canadian and continental French, which I find fascinating. For example, continental French say "le week-end,” and Canadians say "la fin de semaine.” Anyway, it was fun greeting the audience in French for a change, and then we started the concert.
Sylvain Côté was the soundman, and he had actually seen the performance we did in 1990 of An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, my 1989 composition for 100 electric guitars. So he knew EXACTLY the kind of sound I was looking for in the room. Which is to say the sound we had at this performance was especially good. The audience was standing and rockin' with the music, there was a real interaction between the musicians and audience. But perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this performance was a social one. Three of the performers came out Godspeed, two from Silver Mount Zion and other well-known local groups. The point is that all the players knew each other, although this was the first time in quite a while that they got to play on the same stage, at the same time and same place! There was a real feeling of being a family as we were playing G3, which translated into a certain unity as we were playing the music and interacting together.
All in all, a most convivial performance.
Standing from left to right: LoU, Barry Gordon Thomas, David Bryant, Efrim Menuck, Chris Burns, Oliver, Matt Rogalsky, Rhys. Kneeling from left to right: Harris Newman, Sylvain Côté, David Daniell, David Payant, Thierry Amar, Jonathan Cummins, Eric Block © Rhys Chatham
Photos legends:
Action shot #1 © Mindspell
Action shot #2 © Mindspell
G3 performance at La Sala Rossa