Steve Malkmus, sitting backstage before the show, half-smiles and says laconically, like he does, “I’m lookin’ forward to it.”
I say: “You’re not really, are you?”
Steve says: “Yeah, actually, I am!”
And you know what? Steve Malkmus actually enjoyed himself in Vancouver.
There was almost-dancing, shufflin’ around, balancing his guitar on his hand, cradling it high up to his chest (“you never saw Hendrix doing that,” he’d say later, deadpanning) bantering with the crowd, taking a couple of requests, smiling, goofing off and grand, wonderful guitar work.
In fact, if I were a bettin’ woman, I’d lay money down on the fact that not just Malkmus but ALL those reunion-ized 90s-era, 40-somethings were having a good time. One friend even remarked: “You can’t even tell if they actually hate each other.”
Bob Nastanovich (Pavement’s resident MC/second drummer/backup singer/bonkers madman) was as mental and tremendous great fun as I remember him to be in ‘94, as he chatted with the crowd and raged through “Unfair”. Mark Ibold grinned and rocked out for most of the show, Steve West bashed away solidly through amazing hair and better glasses while and Scott Kannberg (Captain Low-Key) played dutifully.
This was a far less shambolic, wayyyyy tighter Pavement than I was expecting. And I’m sure all the guys who were out on ManDates last night would have agreed (Thanks for that ManDate line, guy on Twitter).
As for the songs, well, “Silence Kit” opened, “Gold Soundz”, “Range Life” and “Here” closed.
In between was a mush of timetravelling Americana slackrock and some fantastic guitar noodling from Steve, Mark and Spiral on “Stop Breathing” (in fact, the three often tried to outnoodle each other), “Loretta’s Scars”, a fab version of “Starlings of the Slipstream”, a Mint Julep-y “Shady Lane” with Malkmus on playful good form, a slick “Frontwards”, a grinding “In the Mouth a Desert”, a crowd not singing but YELLING along to “Cut Your Hair”, “Box Elder”, “Ikea” and two-hours wrapped up in a thrift-shop sweater of goodness.
My gods, were PAVEMENT ACTUALLY AMAZING? Or was it just nostalgia?
This night, Pavement were just really, really good. Even the girlfriends of the guys out on ManDates who were sorta dragged there as a courtesy and wouldn’t know a Wowee Zowee from Slanted and Enchanted, would agree. I’m laying bets on it.
All Pavement photos by Brittney Kwasney/Bright Photo for backstagerider.com
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