(Infrequent concertgoer Paul Kaufman catches up with a band from the last era he had time to appreciate.)
Curiously, most of my faves from that decade came out on a single record label, Matador, which boasted Guided by Voices; Liz Phair; Cat Power; and today’s topic, Pavement. After a decade of Splitsville, they’ve reunited and are coming to a town near you!
Tickets had gone on sale ages ago. I had snapped one up, sure that this was my one chance to see them live, having gotten into them late (that is, after their best records, around 1997). Right before I left for the show, I was thumbing through the New Yorker, which had an article about nostalgic 40-somethings desperately searching their apartments for the Pavement tickets they had lovingly bought the previous year. You know you’re middle-aged when your fave indie band is profiled in the New Yorker.
It’s funny to write about Pavement and include lyrics — more than most outfits, their words on a page look so disjointed that it’s hard to recall there’s a great melody attached:
Case in point — “Rattled by the Rush,” from the gloriously under-appreciated LP “Wowee Zowee”:
Getting off the candelabra
We call her Barbara, Breeding like larva
She rabble rousing, Dental surf combat
Get out those hard-hats, And sing us some scat
Blade gushers gush
Chained and perfumed
I don’t need a minister to call me a groom
You dig? Anyway, these senior surrealists were in fine form. I saw them at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, which unfortunately suffered from the echoey sound you’d expect in a hockey stadium. The band looked really happy to be doing this, except for lead singer/guitarist/chief songwriter Steve Malkmus, who didn’t. This was the expected situation.
For me, the high point of the show was the melancholy “Stop Breathing”:
Breathin’ for me now
Write it on a postcard
Dad, they broke me
Dad, they broke me
The beautiful and tense guitar interplay at the end put the whole crowd in their hand, and then they released us, wanting more. I wished they had been more exploratory, but there was a lot of ground to cover, playing major portions of their landmark early 90s LPs “Slanted and Enchanted” and “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.”
They also played two of my favorite NoCal secessionist rants in their set.
From “Two States”:
We want two states
North and South
Two, two states
40 Million Daggers!
Up, to the top of the Shasta gulch
and to the bottom of the Tahoe lakes
Manmade deltas and concrete rivers
the South takes what the North delivers.
I think I’ll more to say about water in SoCal in a later post. For those interested, Matador is having a huge reunion bash in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. Rock out!
— Paul Kaufman
More by Paul Kaufman:
- Father’s Day: Past present and future
- Songs for the DIYper set
- Songs that were separated at birth?
- Seen any good shows lately?
- ‘Sesame Street’: Forty years ago today …
- Beatles: Rock Band … The missing buttons
- Nostradamus I’m Not Part 3: Punk rock sweeps America!
- Nostradamus I’m Not Part 2: The Cold War
- Nostradamus I’m Not Part 1: The Final Frontier
- Sucking in the ’60s
- London Calling
- El sabor de San Diego