SEE PAVEMENT: Seeing Pavement, 9-03-10

“You never thought it was going to happen, did you? Pavement, at Edgefield! I went to a wedding here once…it was nice!”

-Stephen Malkamus

First, a note. You may find my review of this performance…juvenile. To this I say, stuff it. I’ve waited 7 years to see the band, you can forgive my childish joy. Thank you.

Mark Richardson of Pitchfork wrote, on Pixies’ performance at Primavera Sound ’10, “If they really are doing it just for the cash, this is one hell of an argument for capitalism.” The same rings perfectly true for Pavement.The fact of the matter is, Pavement was gone for 10 years, and to suspect them of having lost their glory and their spark is a worry that anybody would feel when weighing the implications of one of indie rock’s most important bands reuniting. I could drag out my review of their two-hour set at Edgefield Amphitheater, but I’ll spoil the surprise: they fucking dominated.

I’ll repeat that, for the cheap seats: they rocked the fucking house. They annihilated. Were you worried? You fucking shouldn’t have been. It doesn’t matter how long they were gone; Pavement are still the undisputed kinds of slacker rock, and anyone who thought they could dethroned is a weakling shithead. Does “fuck you” sound simple enough? Did I mention they played for two-fucking hours?!

But I digress.

Pavement may have been nervous for their first date on their “Quarantine The Past” tour, but they weren’t showing an ounce of it, if they were. If you’ve ever seen the Slow Century documentary, there’s a video of the band performing “Summer Babe” to an overjoyed and insane crowd, where you know that the band is this unstoppable force for a very, very good reason. They could have dragged the performance on for those two hours. They could have played anything. But what they did play was a massive set, including every last fan favorite (excluding Summer Babe, which was conspicuously absent), dragging out the mad ramblings of “Conduit For Sale!” to the beef-starting “Range Life.” From the moment Malkamus began singing, in a voice that hasn’t changed since those records came out, the crowd was eating out of their hands. “Gold Soundz,” which I had expected to take longer to show up (spoiler: it was played FIRST, bitches) for the sake of keeping us all reeled in, still sounded extremely fresh; “We Dance” and “Stereo” are drained of their ridiculousness, and the bridge of “Range Life” rings so very clearly as they closed out their set: “Don’t worry, we’re in no hurry.” If anybody in the crowd was displeased by the evening’s performance, they weren’t going to let it out. It was a magical show, to say the very least.

I don’t know what Pavement have planned from here on out. They may break up again, they may become a festival mainstay like all of their reunited contemporaries, like Dinosaur Jr. and Shellac. Whatever endeavor they tackle, it’s clear that they’re not without every ounce of the energy that propelled them to genius 20 years ago, when Slanted & Enchanted first came out. If there’s any band that needs no fretting over if they’ll let you down, it’s not Pavement. They’re kings.


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