Beer and Pavement

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Posted in Live by SM on February 19, 2012

I’m too tired and too busy to post too often. So, this is what you’ll get for now. Things will get back to normal soon. I hope.

20120219-222009.jpg Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks entertained the CoMusic faithful starving for some nineties indie rock this past Saturday evening at the Blue Note. We didn’t get the opportunity to see Pavement when they made their reunion trek almost two years ago (aside from those of us who made the drive to KC on September 11th). So, Pavement’s primary songwriter and former front man’s trip to Middle Missouri would have to suffice. Playing mostly new songs from the excellent Mirror Traffic, the crowd was treated to what can only be described as “slacker prog”. Malkmus fiddled away at his guitar in numerous awkward positions as bassist Joanna Bolme and mulch-instrumentalist Mike Clark admirably filled holes. However, the most impressive Jick award may have gone to drummer Jake Morris who not only nailed all of Janet Weiss’s parts, but created a little niche of his own, particularly when he and Malkmus played off of each others’ need for some Zeppelin. All the while, the band jammed and screwed with pop structures the only way progressive rock and roll bands know how to do. Besides the prerequisite tracks and single from the latest release, several songs from throughout Malkmus’s solo career and beyond were featured in the set. There were at least two tracks from his first album (if my memory doesn’t fail me) and a decent number of songs from Real Emotional Trash, including the title track. Honestly, “Real Emotional Trash” is just an excuse to jam, but no one complained. This is something SM has cut from his current album, but the back catalog provides plenty of opportunity to explore his Dead Head leanings. Speaking of heads, Malk has an impressive mop of hair for a dude in his mid-forties. Just saying. Pavement, Malkmus’s former band – you may have heard of them, could have never put on a show like Saturday’s. For one, the Jicks seem to like each other, even sharing the stage in a way that would have never happened with Pavement. Sure, Malkmus is in his customary position on the left side of the stage, almost looking somewhat aloof. However, all the band members were relatively equally distanced from the audience, none really standing out. Most impressive once again was the stand that found Morris head and shoulders above the rest. That would have never happened with Pavement. I once watched Malkmus kick off drummer Steve West from his kit so that he could demonstrate how a part was to be played. One really gets the sense that all Jicks are equal even though one Jick’s name is out in front. There’s a reason the Jicks are respected as equals. They honestly are better players than those who played in Pavement and this is coming from a man obsessed with Pavement. Yes, the music is still lazy. Malkmus will never escape this. The difference is that the playing more effortless than just sloppy. Calling it “slacker prog” nails it. Portlanders Nurses opened. The aesthetic was awfully full of Walkmen and Born Ruffians, but they didn’t come with the oomph those bands typically bring. I will reserve judgement, however, until after I hear their recorded work.

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  1. jeffmenter said, on February 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for taking me along to the show. I really liked the drummer as well. He looked like he was really into it and seemed to be playing with more “intention” than the other members if that makes any sense. Like, he was the least slackery of the 4.

    Malkmus has an interesting song crafting approach. I’m still trying to figure out if he’s being free and creative or intentionally abstruse.

    Also, I can’t see how one could be a fan of Malkmus and not, say, Rush and Jethro Tull.

  2. slackermark said, on February 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    slacker prog? Nice. I like it.

    I really enjoyed the show. Was a bit surprised how little Stephen talked between songs. I remember quite a bit of banter in the Pavement days. Maybe he did and I was too far into the Rangers I was being served, I don’t know. I did get a chuckle out of Joanna early on when I suggested she show us she really knew how to play “Strutter”. The Zeppelin tease in the encore was pretty sweet.

    Also agree on the Nurses set. Pretty tight band, but wasn’t feeling it. Kept getting a Gauntlet Hair feel from them.

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