Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Live Review: Pavement/Quasi

Quasi: Local Heroes

This was a wildly entertaining show. The lead singer/guitar/keyboard player didn't have the greatest balance, as his attempts at standing on the amp didn't last long, stumbling back to the stage each time.

The first song, his guitar strap fell off, which led him to shredding on the guitar while trying to keep it elevated propping it up against his leg. The second song, he lost his balance on the amp, and knocked over his mic while almost falling down. He did a good job trying to remount his mic while playing and singing.

He eventually took off his sunglasses to reveal the crazy eyes. Dude is pretty strange, and didn't seem to care what the crowd thought, but was still putting on a memorable show regardless. His keyboard was enclosed by a wooden homemade shell with the stensiled words, "Fragile Musical Instrument," spray painted on the wood. It wasn't too fragile though, as he continually smashed his fists, right foot, and head on the keys, including an impressive trill with his forehead. Outside of the insanity Harry Connick Jr. has exhibited on the piano, this was about as memorable as it gets with the keys. I had a headache just watching it.

Quasi played a set heavy on their recent album, American Gong, while playing a couple older classics. The hipsters didn't seem to care, and I was surprised at the lack of interest for this set. They were much more entertaining than I've seen them in the past.

Pavement 2010: The "If You Still Have Hair, Flaunt It, If Not, Wear A Hat" Tour.

I'll first say I was not listening to Pavement in the 90s, so I had never seen them live before this year's Sasquatch. Virtually everything I've read about their performances include the word "sloppy," which is how the die hard Pavement fans prefer it. Their performance at Sasquatch was just that, which I described as "sloppy, but endearing, like when your girlfriend drinks one too many glasses of wine, and can't stop laughing, even after falling down." Pavement had played at Primavera in Spain three days prior, and were suffering from jet lag and an possibly intoxicated Malkmus celebrating his birthday. The internet argument about the worth of the show that ensued was either, "One of the greatest shows I've ever seen," or "one of the most painful experiences outside of getting a root canal."

But to the chagrin of the Pavement die-hards, "sloppy" never happened. If anything I was amazed at how tight they were. They opened with the song recently named the top track of the 90's by, "Gold Soundz", then into "Shady Lane," and "Silent Kit." After "Kennel District," my first highlight and lowlight occured simultaneously with the song "Unfair." I was in the middle of the crowd about 20 feet back from the stage, so I started thinking a mosh pit would break out during the chorus, but that didn't come close to happening (more on this later). I was just about to go apeshit over Malkmus screaming the chorus, but Bob Nastanovich sang it instead, creating disappointment to the eighth degree (thus the lowlight).

The biggest highlight came when they played "Conduit For Sale," which immediately made me think there is no way Malkmus could have pulled this song off at Sasquatch. The lyrics are fast and technical, and he nailed it, all while Nastanovich screamed "I'm Tryin, I'm Tryin, I'm Tryin, I'm Tryin."

What makes a good show great? The crowd getting into it is usually the answer, which is why this show didn't completely blow my mind. First, there were about 2,000 people, less than half the venue capacity, and hipsters were everywhere. Part of being a hipster is emiting the essence of cool and uninterested. Therefore, dancing, singing along, pumping your fist, and jumping around like a madman is very un-hipster, and it might mess up their hair. Mentally, they are the photographic image of cool, meaning they only look cool in picture form. Movement creates the opposite of their desired effect.

There were people still jumping around and singing along, but not as prevalent as one should expect from such a performance. They were at least less disruptive than during the opener, where groups of hipsters were cracking mildly humorous comments about the show, ala Mystery Science Theater 3000. I get it, you think you are interesting, so loud conversations in public places is your canvas to show everyone within listening distance how interesting you think you are.

I think I'm interesting too, but rather than ruin everyone's time who is trying to watch the show, I write about it on a blog. I need to learn more about what motivates hipsters (besides coffee). If you are a hipster, and would like to have witty conversations in which we try to outdo each other with our coolness, send me an email at Wait, I forgot, hipsters won't admit they are hipsters. This won't work.

Back to the music part of the reviews, Stephen Malkmus' banter between songs has always been tip top. Malkmus poked fun at Scott Kannberg's choice of living in Seattle rather than Portland, and also other bands members for their choice of hotels. This led Nastanovich to start a mini pep rally trying to get everyone from the crowd back to their hotel at the Holiday Inn near the Lloyd Center (room 238?).

Malkmus also made a point to call out the Sasquatch Music Festival. He initially asked who went to Sasquatch to see them, with a small number of people screaming, then went on a rant about how the festival is geared towards high school kids.

He has a right to call out Sasquatch. In 2008, he closed down the second stage with the Jicks, playing after the Kooks, who appeal to a younger crowd, and started 45 minutes late. I suffered through that set just to see Malkmus. The problem with the delay was that Malkmus was now playing opposite the Cure, instead of ending before they started. There were only a couple hundred left when the Cure started.

Fast forward to 2010's Pavement appearance. Pavement was the first band announced as a headliner seven months prior to the festival, and tickets went on sale immediately. Based on the lack of crowd at Edgefield, I'm going to make an educated guess that Pavement was initially billed as a headliner, but when tickets sales were nowhere near expectations, were demoted to opening for Massive Attack. So there you have it, two reasons for Malkmus to be pissed off at Sasquatch, and a good reason why he might never be back.

Overall, it was one of the best performances I've seen this year, but the small crowd, and the lack of crowd interest, drops it down a peg. I rarely listened to Pavement after Sasquatch, yet have spent the last two days listening to nothing but, so if my opinion means anything, I really enjoyed this show, much more than their Sasquatch appearance. I'm sorry to those old school Pavement fans who wanted a "sloppy" show, but this was the Pavement show the non-hipsters wanted to see. Why be sloppy when you can be great?


1. Gold Soundz
2. Shady Lane
3. Silent Kit
4. Kennel District
5. Unfair (Highlight)
6. Perfume-V
7. Shoot the Singer
8. In the Mouth A Desert
9. Cut Your Hair (Highlight)
10. Grounded
11. Box Elder
12. Date With Ikea
13. Stop Breathin' (Highlight)
14. Stereo
15. Frontwards
16. Fight This Generation
17. Conduit For Sale (Highlight)
18. Spitting On A Stranger
19. Starlings Of the Stripstream (Highlight)
20. Trigger Cut
21. Here
22. Fin
23. Two States

24. And Then
25. We Dance
26. Range Life (Highlight)


  1. Anyone interested in seeing photos from this show can follow this link:

  2. Great review.
    My two cents: a good amount of people around me were in an unexpected mesmerized trance, due to Pavement's unbelievably tight performance.
    That, coupled with "questionable, show-enhancement consumer goods," would, I imagine, be the cause for so many motionless "hipsters."
    I can speak for myself when saying that my eyes were so glued to the incredible show that the idea of dancing and wailing never crossed my mind, much less seemed necessary.
    Pavement was motion enough!

    PS thanks for the set list and photos!

  3. Thanks for the photos Ben.

    You make a valid point Diego, although I believe the cross section of those using show-enhancements reside at every show, but are overshadowed by the movements of the crowd. Panda Bear for example, was the definition of an LSD show, yet there were still many near the front of the crowd jumping up and down and swaying, even though the music was very mellow.

    The Ra Ra Riot show on the other hand was packed full of hipsters, and again, most were standing around.The lead singer even mentioned how "attentive" the crowd was, and how he wouldn't mind if people moved around a bit.