Before last week, the first and only time I had the absolute pleasure of seeing indie-rock legends Pavement live, was on 10/6/97 at Club Toast, in Burlington, VT. The place was packed and my friend Tyler came down from Montreal for the gig. Trey Anastasio from Phish was standing next to us. Pavement f#%ked our earholes with beautiful loud rock and I can still remember how amazing it felt at the end of the show. It wasn't enough. I wanted more. Jambands have spoiled me with 3 hour shows and I'm almost disappointed when I get anything less than that.
Pavement disbanded abruptly in late 1999 with no real official announcement or send-off, but a cryptic message on their website and the rumor that Stephen Malkmus (SM) had put a pair of handcuffs on his mic one night in Europe and announced "this is what it's like to be in a band". Thusly, most fingers pointed at SM's notoriously inflated ego/attitude as the main reason the band disappeared. All that really concerned me was that my magical Pavement had gone away (leaving a gaping hole in my musical diet) and no one knew if or when they'd ever play together again. Pavement fans were left to fend for ourselves. It was Unfair.
Despite being the probable cause of one of my very favorite band's unraveling, I've followed and enjoyed Stephen Malkmus' solo career. I've stood in pouring rain and lightning storms in Prospect Park and braved the sardine-packed Coney Island in the abysmal July heat to watch SM & the Jicks play 90 minute sets, which are never quite long enough- even in a monsoon. Sometimes, I'm not sure if he hates his fans or if he just doesn't care- maybe a little bit of both. Still, I will never fully understand how something so beautiful (Pavement) to so many people, seemed to become such a burden to him- but he's an eccentric genius-- that's their jam, man. Buy the solo record and move on, I guess.
After making a brief appearance at Bob Nastanovich's wedding in early 2009, last October, Pavement announced they'd be playing a single show in Central Park in September 2010. Friends made plans to fly down from Canada, up from Florida-- everyone would gather to experience Pavement live again. And I would buy tickets a full year in advance. When the Tuesday night show sold out (in 2 minutes), they announced a Wednesday night show. When the Wednesday night show sold out, they announced a Thursday night show. And when the Thursday night show sold out, they announced a Friday night show. When this ticket blitz was over (an hour later?), I had tickets to 3 of the 4 Central Park shows... that were all still an entire year away. And then came the waiting.
During the waiting, Pavement announced a full tour that would take place BEFORE all 4 Central Park shows. That was a little annoying. Still, the positive approach was that everything preceding Central Park, would simply be a soundcheck for Central Park.
In the Spring of 2010, Pavement started rehearsing... and talking to the press. Little by little we learned details of their demise. Speculation that SM's attitude/weirdness was ultimately behind the collapse of a band that meant so much to so many, was pretty much confirmed. Malkmus had even taken to riding the tour bus with a jacket over his head so he didn't have to communicate with his band-mates. Awkward. Supposedly, Spiral Stairs (SS, aka Scott Kannberg) was told to inform the other band members that Pavement was done. I imagine it went down exactly like the Painted Soldiers video. Also, now I want to give Spiral a hug for always being super awesome and writing some of my favorite songs (I ordered his solo album as a first step in coming to terms with the fact that I haven't followed his solo career as closely as SM's). And I want to hug Mark Ibold because he is Mark Ibold.
We also learned in the Klosterman GQ article that the other members of Pavement have wanted to reunite for years. Basically, it sounds like Pavement means more to the other band members than it does to SM. Shit, now I wonder if Pavement means more to me than it does to SM?
Their World Tour started in March 2010. Then in May, Pavement announced they'd be playing at the Brooklyn Waterfront the weekend before the Central Park shows... And I was officially pissed off at Pavement. That seemed like a real dick move. I refused to spend more money on them. This anger simmered for months. Bitter resentment, abandonment issues, and jealousy of everyone who got to see them before me. It made for conflicted anticipation as the shows grew closer. I had nightmares of them walking onstage, playing a robotic 90 minute set, flipping us all off, and leaving. So- mostly, I was hoping that I still liked Pavement when the Central Park shows were over. Talk about stress.
DAY OF SHOW 1!!!! FUCKING, FIIIIIINALLY!!!!! In the month/weeks leading up to the shows, it became clear that people were not flying down from Canada, or up from Florida. Nor were they driving from Massachusetts. And that the only people interested in my newly-extra'd tickets seemed to live in California. Essentially, I'd better derive sheer joy from Pavement's performances, because they'd over-saturated the market and I wasn't gonna make my money back. People couldn't give their extras away. Fuck it! Less tall people to block my view.
Pavement walked out from their trailer and onto the stage, to cheering fans who had been waiting a full year for this moment. It was actually happening!!! They opened with Shady Lane and I had immediately forgiven them. They sounded great, maybe a bit nervous at first, but it all loosened up and came together at some point quickly thereafter. Then it was just like rapid fire punches to the gut. Frontwards, Heckler Spray > Elevate Me Later (!!!!!!), Starlings, Stereo, Kennel District (siiiigh)... Loud, embracing, Pavement. Awesome. Warm mushy melty insides. Pavement. At last!
Mark Ibold and Spiral Stairs were running around smiling, Stephen Malkmus mostly stood guard over his mic and behind his hair (that's his thing), Steve West (who also rules) was climbing on his kit, and Bob Nastanovich was possessed.
Shit, who cared what they played, as long as they were playing it! Grounded, Rattled By The Rush (!!!), We Dance, In The Mouth of A Desert-- with those fucking scorching guitar wails. It was powerful and LOUD. They were having FUN. Perfume-V and Unfair. Which oddly enough, is when I could have sworn I was being pranked on film. Fran Drescher's retarded cousin who was shit-faced, plopped herself right in back of us. She was singing, but not the words, and always as if she were a set of bagpipes being stomped on with a steel-toed boot. Loudly. She disappeared or went mute after Unfair, cuz I managed not to notice after that. This was especially cool cuz a tall boy gave me his spot (thanks! That's *GOLD STAR CHIVALRY*!) and I could finally see the whole stage! I wasn't moving.
Fin was beautiful. Gold Soundz was more warmth and love. Debris Slide was abrasive (a good abrasive). Range Life (singalongs!), Trigger Cut (hooky, bright, energetic).
They had to start Cut Your Hair twice, which is cute considering they've probably played it every night this tour (and again over a decade ago). Some people seem to roll their eyes at Cut Your Hair, but I love that song. If it weren't for that song, I may never have heard Pavement at the right place & time to spark me into the Crooked Rain loving Pavement fan-girl I am today. The day I get tired of hearing Pavement sing Cut Your Hair, LIVE, in-person, is a day I welcome- because that would mean I'd get to see Pavement play at least a shit-ton more shows in my lifetime. "That's a pretty snazzy hair-cut!"
It was all good. Everyone was smiling. Dark, humorous, cryptic, twisting, beautiful adventures in every song. Ahhh, Pavement!
There were even some lovely extended jammy sections here and there. Perfect Depth, Fight This Generation, Box Elder (YES)... Encore: Date With Ikea (all smiles), Shoot the Singer, Conduit for Sale! (brash-- a good brash), Silence Kid, Heaven Is A Truck (haunting and great, with a nice pretty little jam at the end), and a wonderful Stop Breathin'. How are these guys not more popular amongst the jamband scene? Where is the appreciation? My head asplode.
All throughout the show, Pavement thanked the crowd for selling the shows out so quickly and for not losing their tickets. They also kind of apologized for booking a full tour before the Central Park shows, and announced that "these are the real first shows" (see?). More apologies about the excessive amount of extras floating around. I had already forgiven them (they had me at "blinded") for everything, but it was nice to hear these little things addressed directly. I may have suggested they buy my extra back (loudly), but that's neither here nor there.
Man, have I missed Pavement.
The band were smiling and so was the crowd. That's a pretty fucking satisfying (first) reunion show. I am still glad I bought tickets for these shows a year in advance. Missing this was not an option.
Shady Lane / Frontwards / Heckler Spray / Ell Ess Two / Starlings of the Slipstream / Stereo / Kennel District / Grounded / Rattled By The Rush / We Dance / In The Mouth A Desert / Perfume-V / Unfair / Fin / Gold Soundz / Debris Slide / Range Life / Trigger Cut / Cut Your Hair / Perfect Depth / Fight This Generation / Box Elder
ENCORE: Date With IKEA / Shoot The Singer / Conduit For Sale! / Silent Kid / Heaven Is A Truck / Stop Breathin’
DL THE SHOW!! Thanks, NYC Taper! http://www.nyctaper.com/?p=3989 (not to be confused with NYC Tapir)
Wednesday I went to the Yanks/Rays game with my Mom. The bullpen was a total shit-show. There was a 2 hour 11 minute rain delay. I hear it rained in Central Park too.
Heckler Spray / In The Mouth A Desert / Perfume-V / Trigger Cut / Unfair / Range Life / Starlings Of The Slipstream / Spizzle Trunk / Shady Lane / Fight This Generation / Summer Babe / Cut Your Hair / Kennel District / Gold Soundz / Zurich Is Stained / Stereo
**10 minute break as electrical storm passes over the park **
The Hexx / Two States / Spit On A Stranger / Grounded / Silent Kid / Father To A Sister Of Thought / Stop Breathin’
ENCORE: Date With Ikea / Feed ‘Em To The Lions (Linden) / Here // Conduit For Sale!
DL THE SHOW!! Thanks, NYC Taper! http://www.nyctaper.com/?p=4009
Thursday morning I was soooo psyched for more Pavement! Friends came down from Ithaca for the show and we pregamed with margaritas at Harry's on the Upper West Side. Originally, we were gonna cab-it to the show, but Secret Service shut down the roads (UN in session + The President was in town all week = total clusterfuck in the city). So instead, we took a lovely walk through the park to the show. Once inside, it was a quick trip to the merch booth and we scored some great real estate at the inner-outer rail SM-side, the same spot I was able to see the entire band from on Tuesday night. FUCK YEAH, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
Here's a good spot to mention that I really didn't pay any attention to the opening bands at any of these shows. Sorry. Nothing personal. *insert Sad Trombone sfx*
Also, no play-by-play for Thursday's show. The show was awesome. Being there (again) felt right. Highlights: a beautiful and heart-wrenching Spit On A Stranger, a noisy and moody Fight This Generation, a gorgeous Fin, they ROCKED Kennel District, Heckler Spray, & Box Elder.
The band was business as usual and in a good mood. SM sounded slightly slurry at times and confessed to getting a lobotomy earlier in the day. It was endearing. Classic Pavement. He told us why the song Cut Your Hair changed his life- he got to move out of a studio apartment and into a 1-bedroom and that is why he will always love it.
I was a little disappointed in the amount of songs repeated from Tuesday, but again- I'm completely spoiled by jambands and as a reunion show, they hit the Important Points. They did mix it up a whole bunch, peppered in some randoms, and in no way were any of these shows identical. However, there were so many more/other songs I would have loved to hear: Blue Hawaiian, Passat Dream (siiigh), Folk Jam, Painted Soldiers, ... and Carrot Rope! 3 nights of Pavement and I'm bitching about repeats. Someone call the WAAAAHmbulance.
Stacking it up: Thursdays' show was a ton of fun, but Tuesday's show had some really intense energy that will forever hold a special place in my heart. Tuesday turned my insides to goo. Thursday, my insides were full of tequila, which is awesome in it's own way.
Poor Heidi got a migraine mid-show, I tried to convince her it was the Universe's way of telling her she needed to come on Friday too.
Grounded / Gold Soundz / Silent Kid / Date With IKEA / Unfair / Spit On A Stranger / Rattled By The Rush / Stereo / Loretta’s Scars / Frontwards / Stop Breathin’ / Shoot The Singer / Trigger Cut / Cut Your Hair / Fight This Generation / Two States / Fin / Summer Babe / She Believes / Range Life
Kennel District / Shady Lane / Starlings of the Slipstream / Our Singer / Heckler Spray - Mellow Jazz Docent tease / In The Mouth A Desert / We Dance / Box Elder
DL THE SHOW!! Thanks, NYC Taper! http://www.nyctaper.com/?p=4017
Friday night I met up with Mark and Jenna. We talked of monkeys and hopped in a Suicide Cab^ up to the park -> blocked streets, Secret Service Agents, "International Incidents" involving the Gotcha Media, etc., etc..
The show started off with a really loud, loose, and dominant Heckler Spray. A huge start to a huge show. In The Mouth Of A Desert was really satisfying and passionate. The crowd was singing along loudly. It was Friday night and no one was holding back. There was a lot of love in the room. Frontwards was beautiful. Spit On A Stranger was a lovely kind of space-y.
Shady Lane and sometime around then we tried to find a better spot to stand. I couldn't see at all (sadness!) and there was a really loud backup singer to our right... We wandered and finally ended up in a fairly better spot: on the raised deck in the VIP section on SS's side. Yah, slightly better. Thanks, Marquis. Also, I just have to mention this cuz I've had a million tall assholes stand in front of me at all types of shows who end up obstructing my view- but at this moment on this night, my line of vision was perfectly clear *because* of the person standing in front of me: a little person standing on a chair. HUZZAHS!
Spiral belted out an amazing Date With Ikea and thanked NYC afterwards-- he meant it. Grounded was wailing. They were playing with their souls... and we were eating it up! This might have been when Pavement fell in love with their Central Park audience. They played an aggressive Cut Your Hair, Perfume-V, and an inspired Conduit For Sale! kept it going- this was a ton of energy. Steve Goss, the dude who won the Jimmy Fallon contest and got to play Unfair on-air with Pavement the previous night- helped Bob scream along. Father To A Sister Of Thought slowed things down a bit but Stereo brought the electricity right back up, the whole place was bouncing and singing along. Starlings was wonderful. I hoped that the Secret Service agents lining the streets at the fancy Function that had the street closed down were paying attention. Gold Soundz was brilliant, comforting, cathartic. I was *SO* psyched to hear The Hexx!!! Mark and Spiral were freakin' glowing. Even Stephen Malkmus was smiling!!!
During We Dance, Mrs. Bob Nastanovich came out and danced with her husband, which was quite adorable.
Then... THE BEST SILENCE KID EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were rocking the fuck out! Unfair, with Bob going totally beserk. Awesomeness. No Life Singed Her, Trigger Cut (wonderful and everyone was singing along), Stop Breathin' (haunting, another huge singalong), Elevate Me Later (a super-spirited trip), and a sweet Here to close out the set.
The great energy continued through the encores, starting with a huge Rattled By The Rush, a hypnotizing space-y Heaven Is A Truck, and a howling Summer Babe in which I happily watched Mark Ibold singing along while grinning ear-to-ear.
Pavement stood on the side of the stage and waited for us to cheer them on for the 2nd encore. The showmanship! Encore 2! A dreamy Kennel District (starring SS), then a rockin Debris Slide. Range Life was a wonderful goodbye to their 4 night run in Central Park. They brought out their friend Bryce Goggin to play a mini keyboard (he played keyboard on the album version), and this closed out the show. With the ending note, Spiral fell over.
Again, all through the show, Pavement used every opportunity to thank the crowd and it was genuine. The love was particularly warm and mushy Friday night.
Friday's was the type of show that repeatedly gave me goose-bumps. It happened again as I listened to the recording. If there is any hope of Pavement ever making new music together or even touring again, that Friday night show in Central Park should be all the reason they will ever need. Well, that and money of course. Either way, I'm in!
Heckler Spray / In The Mouth A Desert / Frontwards / Spit On A Stranger / Shady Lane / Date With IKEA / Grounded / Cut Your Hair / Perfume-V / Conduit For Sale! / Father To A Sister Of Thought / Stereo / Starlings Of The Slipstream / Gold Soundz / The Hexx / We Dance / Silent Kid / Unfair / No Life Singed Her / Trigger Cut / Stop Breathin’ / Ell Ess Two / Here
Rattled By The Rush / Heaven Is A Truck / Summer Babe
Kennel District / Debris Slide / Range Life
DL THE SHOW!! Thanks, NYC Taper! http://www.nyctaper.com/?p=4025
Summing up: Tuesday was really special. Thursday was awesome too. Friday was beyond epic. Friday was the **GOLD STAR NIGHT WINNER** of this run!
It was really refreshing to see them all up there smiling and enjoying themselves. They did a whole damn tour together and they're still happy, so there's no reason to believe it won't happen again. I will miss them for however long it is in-between shows. Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting...
Thank you for 3 (more) beautiful nights of music. Come back soon (10 years is kind of a long time, yah?). I miss you already.
Pavement (it still feels good to type that out), 9/21, 23, & 24/10, Central Park: 10 FUCKING HUZZAHS!
Saturday morning I woke up with the hiccups. It lasted all day and into the wee early hours of Sunday morning. Still experiencing random bursts of hiccups into the wee early hours of Thursday morning. Pavement withdrawal, perhaps? Surely the shakes must be next.
Do yourself a favor and DL these shows! Thanks again to NYC Taper, for the outstanding recordings!
^ You know that feeling at the exact moment you realize you've gotten into the wrong cab? Dying before the Friday night Pavement show would have sucked.