Saturday, 15 May 2010

Down To Earth [Pavement 2010]

The face of so called ‘Indie’ music has changed immensely over the last decade, to such an extreme that you could never really expect a self coined ‘middle-big college rock band’ to remain a hit after a 10 year non-touring streak, surely? Well if Pavement proved anything in their recent comeback tour it is that it doesn’t matter how long you’re away, or how much music has changed if you managed to reach cult status.

Stephen Malkmus propelled into cult status way back in the 1990’s, in the hearts of anyone who could see past the bands former discrepancies, mainly the plagiarism claims, and took the rest of band for the ride alongside him. Pavement, soon became a favorite amongst Indie Fizzpickles everywhere, admired for their mumbling charm and slacking sound. A ‘raw’ band they have always been and a ‘raw’ band they remain today, the awkwardness and the rough around the edges approach to their four-night spell at Brixton Academy demonstrated why they are still loved today. Having achieved cult status, success is much like relying on a good recipe; if you keep the ingredients the same, you’ll never go far wrong.

Many a sour remark towards rival bands such as The Stone Temple pilots and The Smashing Pumpkins rekindled their grumpy attitudes towards what constitutes a crowd pleasing performance, leaving the crowd experiencing the much anticipated awkward, mumbling performance which caused them to fall in love with the band in the first place. There were the usual screams and scowls from percussionist Bob Nastanovich which progressed the band through it’s 31-song set, sweeping from the mundane softer numbers, into the progressive, exciting numbers, sometimes like a hurricane…

It was obvious, when considering that prior to their tour they’ve performed less than a handful of gigs together in the last decade, that the performance was going to be less than perfect but somehow that just added to the charm making it feel special, perhaps more than perfect. The band showed they still have what it takes though, showing their ability to change styles and shift gears at a moments notice they belted through a guitar smashing crescendo post the chorus of ‘Elevate Me Later’ and re-synched, to give a somber final verse which left them swimming into a sea of silence and the audience with every hair on their neck stood on end.

The bands set list, 31 choice tracks selected from all of the bands five albums and eight EP’s was a crowd pleaser, including all the favorites to wet the crowds appetites. For any successfull story, you need a good beginning, middle and end. For any truly scrumptious meal you need a good starter, main and dessert. For any good gig you need a good introduction, bulk and encore. Pavement achieved this easily, starting with favorites Silence Kit and Stereo, they proceeded to move through a jam packed bulk including Grounded, Cut Your Hair, Fight This Generation and finish with not one but TWO sweets. The first encore Date with Ikea and Stop Breathing led to a second encore, lapped up by the over excited audience and their final two songs were conduit and Here.

Generally, the band couldn’t really do much wrong so long as they stuck to what they knew and they sure did that. A truly fantastic, in places, awe inspiring performance by the West Coast Lead Singer and indeed the rest of the band. As though they picked up the very same instruments that had been laying idle for ten years, they proceeded to improve and break them in as the four days went on, leading to a phenomenal performance to end their four-day residence on the final Thursday, proving they still have the talent and followers (including a weird eerie cult atmosphere) to continue being at least one of my favorite Indie bands if not one of the best Indie bands history has ever seen! I was even lucky enough to meet and have a natter with Scott Kannberg, you will be pleased to know they are as nice as they are talented, truly lovely people and I shall end with the question; Can this band do no wrong?!

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