Back in the day (“today” in the ’90s), Pavement became such a cutesy type of band as tacky, anti-rock that they never took credit for what great rock bands they were—and as their 30th ongoing—the clan’s Anniversary Tour shows, still.
The stereotype of the lean, library, indie vibe, and image of the group’s early records became so tight-knit that few noticed how tight and accomplished they were after drummer Steve West joined the group in 1993. Although they always underestimated their “rock” ability. And they still do that, when the band locks into hypnotic grooves while singer-guitarist Stephen Malmus plays solos with Lou Reed-ish mix of soaring melodies and crunchy vocals (usually ending with a few self-deprecating nods), they can hold their own with any rock band. On their later albums, this spice moved on to their songwriting, almost delivering Malkmus’ melodies in a cleaner, sharper way, as if he wasn’t entirely embarrassed any longer by how beautiful and attractive they were.
And although their current tour — their second reunion trip, after one in 2010 — consists entirely of songs dating from their 1989-1999 career, the group has spared little effort in keeping things fresh: Which lasted four nights on the town, their base was long, the group shuffled the playlists on each show, playing between 25 and 30 songs in just under two hours, on four consecutive nights. No wonder that in the middle of the group, Malcos took a large amount of water and said, “I just drank this water like a dog after a walk—you get greedy for the sound after four nights.”
It looks like they’re trying to run their discography almost entirely on tour: the band—which opened with a different song on nearly every group on the tour—started with Grounded from Wowee Zowie’s 1995 hit single and playlist. It featured almost all of this and the next, 1997’s “Brighten the Corners” – but strangely enough, no songs were found from their last album, “Terror Twilight”. According to social media interns, tonight was the first time they’ve played “AT&T” in 12 years. (By contrast, the first night relied heavily on early material.)
They also didn’t hold back on their classics: “Gold Soundz” came out early on the group, featured “Range Life” and of course the parody-rock hit “Cut Your Hair,” which many middle-aged folks on. Pumping fist on “No big hair!” Line.
And yes, they are still rock-solid. Malkmus is still the anti – he’s always been positioned on the far left side of the stage, with guitarist Mark Ibold bops in the middle – but his voice is at its best, and after keeping banter to a minimum during the first half of the set, he raised a few aspects of An incomparable deep reference. After the group played the Fall-esque song “Two States,” guitarist Scott Kahenberg (aka Spiral Stairs) said, “We listened to fall right before we hit the stage!” , Malchus sneered, “Yes, autumn in autumn … [‘80s hardcore band] The Ritual of Spring in Spring… Uh, Sumner Redstone in Summer? ‘,” he said, referring to the late television mogul.
And as hard as some veteran fans might feel – let’s face it, this audience is almost entirely made up of veteran fans – to see this band play in a gorgeously ornate venue like the Brooklyn Kings Theater as middle-aged men (accompanied by Rebecca) Cole, who was working Previously on Wild Flag, on keyboards, percussion, and backing vocals), Pavement was delivered. Hopefully it won’t be another 12 years before they touch the plates together again.