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Pavement At The Last Night Of Summerstage, Friday, September 24th, 2010: That Blue Spot In The Distance Is Malkmus by Iman Lababedi

The worst song at Pavement’s pretty good closing night set yesterday was the last song, an awful version of “Range Life”. Maybe the addition of keyboards was throwing em off, perhaps the arrangement just sucked and needed rethinking, but whatever: killing off the “dream dream dream” ending was an awful idea and the pacing was deadly.
The best moment was the second song. I had been skimming the Pavement playlists on brooklynvegan for “Frontwards” (an oldie off their first EP) every day during this 5 night NYC effectively ending Pavement’s reunion tour and no, no “Frontward”. Not only did they play it, they killed it: as Helen noted yesterday, that “miles and miles of style” goes down a treat and, like the entire night, the poppier Pavement got, the better they got.
The first five songs were entirely excellent. From “Heckless” (a great instrumental) to “Frontwards” thru “Shady Lane”: it movedeffortless from one end of their career to the other:
Crooked Rain
Watery Domestic EP (though I owned it on the Muscles comp)
Terror Twilight
Brighten The Corners
This was the first quarter of the concert, and despite tech problems, “we’re having psychological problems” Malkmus quips, it was really great. The drummer (aren’t drummers meant to shut their faces? between Wavves and this guy they won’t close their mouths) wasn’t too annoying. Lead singer, lead everything and mostly lead songwriter, Stephen Malkmus looks like an aging college boy with a Shaggy haircut and a tall, thin visage.  And though I was too far back to see much of anything, they weren’t doing much of anything.
Steve  leads the band and they come across like less the alt rockers of before but more a pop rock group who have just discovered they’d written a boat load of melodies and play them so well, so tightly with an ear for the hooks, o the audience, lotsa lower thirties chicks who ten years ago were jerking off to and singing along to Pavement in State Universities and know every single word and sing em like they mean something which they don’t, almost cream with pleasure me including.
And then they kinda blow it for half an hour and become… an alt jam band and they go on and on on awful sounding playing off dischords like… well, like they meaning something which they don’t, etc. It is really tedious and except for some bloke in the band I catch a glimpse of here and there singing his little heart out they are a pretty stoic bunch and whose to blame em since this is a self-evident, and give Pavement credit, admittedly, money move. Steve was sick of the band when he dumped em ten years ago for his stalled on arrival solo career and, on this the penultimate date of months and months and months on the road, they don’t act quite like who gives as hit, but they are still essentially going through the motions.
The audience goes apeshit for “Cut Your Hair” and  “Stereo” and an only OK “Silent Kit” half way thru the set is discovered with rapture. The girl shaking the fence next to me  jumps outta her skin for this one and bangs back so hard she almosts cripples her date.
It’s all pretty good, seldom a disaster, the pacing is pretty good though the midpoint is deadly and the idea of an encore needs to be taken out and shot dead -two encores is ridiculous. Pavement thank Sonic Youth for one song though I don’t know why.
“Rattled By The Rush” (they’d played it much earlier in the set on previous nights) sucks, but “Summer Babe” is as great as I’ve ever heard it: now here, you wish they would jam out because man do they get their groove and Steve, who has been in great great voice all night, kills it with the entire audience joining him on the “Every time I turn around I find I’m shot” bit.
And then… the worst “Range Life” I’ve ever heard and  Pavement is over and the summer is over and summer stage is over.

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