Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Last Night's Pavement Central Park Thundershow: Gen X is All Wet

Miles Klee: I think I have a little bit of a crush on Generation X. And seeing Pavement play a concert in an apocalyptic Central Park thunderstorm last night took it to a whole new level. It also didn't hurt that Cece and I ran into you, Dave, an authentic Gen X-er (if my math is sound)-by the way, you do the meanest air guitar I've seen in ages. But the point is, I pretty much swooned when I heard the opening bars of "Spit On A Stranger."

Dave Bry: Yes! Great to run into you Miles, and to meet you, Cece. I just wrote an embarrassingly florid recap for two Pavement-head college friends under the subject heading LIGHTNING BOLTS OF AWESOMENESS and included the sentence: "Basically, I had the feeling, while they were playing THE HEXX, that all my dreams were coming true." So, yeah. Man, what a night.

Miles Klee: My favorite lightning bolt was probably the one that forked horizontally over the stage and lit up the sky right as they hit the chorus of "Stereo." The crowd released this, like, GAWWWW sound, a sort of drooling at the sublime.

Dave Bry: Yes. That was the moment when it was like, Oh, this is very special night. The storm making it better, not worse. Listicle Without Commentary: Top Ten Lightning Bolts at Last Night's Pavement Show.

Cece Lederer: "The Hexx" was just about the best live version of any song I have ever heard. I was also oddly heartened by the hippie-bros behind me who sang along to every song. Seriously, I always HATE when people sing along at concerts. It makes my skin crawl. I'm here to see them, not you. But the infectious enthusiasm of these guys smoking fat J's and addressing each other with "yo" and "dude" made me feel a sublime camaraderie. Everyone there had spent countless hours listening alone, but now we were listening together. And even though we are, as a rule, "Haters," we could all revel in the joy of music together. And there was something about the rain that gave it a Woodstock '10 feeling. We're going to stick it out and we don't care about the rain because, let's be serious, we don't care about anything.

Dave Bry: The vocal anti-umbrella sentiment was enjoyable, too. The folks in back (the fratty-bro-hippies, maybe?) shouting for people to put down their umbrellas. I see their point. It is kind of obnoxious to put up your umbrella and block other peoples' view at a rock show. Like, Give it up. We're all getting soaked here. (And don't block my view.) I never considered umbrellas as being anti-rock before. But I guess they really are. Rockers don't mind getting a little wet. They're singing in the rain.

Miles Klee: Did it seem like there were no hipsters there? Another point for Gen X: they are hipster-repellent. Though, Cece, I was pretty sure you were gonna punch that girl in the poncho who was fretting about her iPad getting wet.

Cece Lederer: And she was texting the whole time. Do you think she was the mystery texter at My Bloody Valentine too? It just breaks my heart when I think of all the 17-year-old girls blowing pot smoke through the fan in their bathroom window, listening to Wowee Zowee and NOT at the concert because this waste of hair straightener got the tickets that were rightfully hers! You're right that there didn't seem to be any hipsters. There must have been an Animal Collective show somewhere in Bushwick. I did, however, notice that 1 in 5 guys looked exactly like Malkmus. I also couldn't believe how much fun Malkmus looked like he was having. I think he might like Pavement ALMOST as much as I do.

Dave Bry: And that has not always been the case at Pavement shows. The whole band did seem to get into the spirit of the rain-storm-faithful. They sounded genuine in their "thanks for sticking it out with us…" stuff. And of course, they rewarded us by playing their very best songs. I was worried I would not hear "Here," because they hadn't played it the night before. But then, on a night like last night, they had to play it. A wet and soaked and exhausted and beautiful song for a wet and soaked and exhausted and beautiful night.
Sounds gold
Cece Lederer: NOT ENOUGH EARLY TRACKS!!! Such as: "Debris Slide," "Forklift," "From Now On," "Box Elder," "She Believes," "Angel Carver Blues/Mellow Jazz Docent," "Home," "Baptist Blacktick," "My First Mine." Also: "AT&T."

Miles Klee: I found myself wondering where Malkmus got his really comfortable-looking plaid shirt. I feel myself slouching toward slackerdom. I think it all began with some cool older cousins of mine gave me a book of Matt Groening's "Life In Hell" comics when I was way too young for it.

Cece Lederer: I may just be a part of Generation X. It's defined more by transcendent ennui and technological proficiency than it is by year anyway.

Dave Bry: I've always been confused by the term. I suppose it's a can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees thing, because I'm smack dab in the middle of it. (And I have to admit to the weird feeling that comes for me at a Pavement show: there is no band that makes me feel more dead-center demographic stereotype than they do.) But I've always thought that that was kind of what they're talking about in "Fight This Generation." Like, fight this idea of us being lumped together and summed up with this monochromatic catch-all label. But maybe that's not what it's about it at all. And I'm well aware that I probably live up to stereotype from the perspective of others as much as anyone else. But I'd still like to fight that idea.

Miles Klee: Oh for sure-"Gen X" is as lazy a label as "Millennial." It's awesome, though, that "Fight This Generation" can feel to me like a rallying cry against whatever intangible shittiness I do sense in my own age group. I dunno! Pavement lyrics are cryptic enough to be multivalent; they can still be applied all over the place. Which I suppose is what gives these songs a timelessness whereby rock critics today can finally start to say: "It wasn't by any stretch the most popular sound back then, but it's turned out to be among the most enduring."

Dave Bry: They'll be like the Velvet Underground, maybe?

Cece Lederer: At least we're not "The Greatest Generation." That's some shit to live up to.

Cece Lederer will be buying scalped tickets to Friday's show. Miles Klee is thinking about it. Dave Bry is still toweling off.

37 Comments / Post A Comment

there is no band that makes me feel more dead-center demographic stereotype than they do

This is gonna sound cliche, but for me, that band is Sonic Youth.

Because apart from the first video I ever saw on MTV — Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Spellbound" — my earliest memory of MTV is "Death Valley 69".

I don't think I can tell the difference between a Pavement song and a Weezer song.

Art Yucko (#1,321)


Too busy listening to Boredoms/Jesus Lizard/Babes in Toyland to care… *rolls eyes, crosses arms, slouches against wall*

Art Yucko (#1,321)

's cool. I WORE MY PLAID SHIRT TODAY. *GRINS**blankface*

MatthewGallaway (#1,239)

"Here" is my favorite Pavement song, too. (It reminds me a little of Bedhead, which to me is the most criminally neglected band of the 90s.)

Miles Klee (#3,657)

omg totally slowcore

Art Yucko (#1,321)

No Life Singed Her and In the Mouth a Desert both contain a lot of the zeitgeist of our coming-of-age, for my two cents. I think we could etch either one (okay, maybe the whole of Slanted and Enchanted) on our collective generational tombstone. Best part is, all of the songs are unique in their dissonance, short, and to the point.

You know what else I always loved about Pavement? I never gave a flying fuck what the song titles were, on any of their albums. When I re-familiarize myself with the song-titles now (for the purposes of internet), the absurdity makes me laugh. I just know them by riffs and Malkmus moans alone.

Miles Klee (#3,657)

For the uninitiated, here's Bedhead's cover of "Disorder," maybe the greatest Joy Division cover I can think of:

erikonymous (#3,231)

I appreciate Art Yucko's candor, but what starts making me uncomfortable is when people are like "This lyric defines my generation," especially when it's coming from as inscrutable, ironic, and, dare I say it, capricious a lyricist as Malkmus. Unless you're just saying that Gen X is those things. In which case, how dare you call me inscrutable!!!

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Pavement : Where's Waldo :: Stereolab : Magic Eye

Art Yucko (#1,321)

@erik: to clarify, not really the lyrics I was getting at; just the sound and the overall "tone" and "personality" of the songs.

Don't get me wrong! It's not like I believe ONE BAND is worthy of defining a generation of people… but imho things as simple as a band's sound or a certain song can speak deeply to that generation's identity.

erikonymous (#3,231)

Clarified, and agreed!

I just notice that I tend to have certain assumptions about other generations myself, influenced by the media I've seen. Like, for example, even without a soundtrack, if you show me footage of the Vietnam War, I almost instinctively get Hendrix's cover of "All Along the Watchtower" in my head because of how often those formerly distinct entities (?) have been paired. Now, whether or not this is an appropriate song for said footage, whether or not a majority feel it speaks deeply to the generational identity, I find it a terribly inappropriate response in myself. And we all do this instinctively, to an extent, but I just don't want it to come to the point where someone mentions the 90s or Gen X and I just get Pavement in my head. I worry about these complexities, like the idea of a generation, becoming shorthanded.
Which, in the grand scheme of things is a somewhat ridiculous concern, but there ya go.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

YES. Always be wary of the cultural defaults. Generally the musical cultural default for "90's" tends to be Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Green Day or some such (if we're talking rock/alt genres.) Which is fine with me, because I can't fuckin' stand 2 out of those 3 I just named. Pavement has yet to receive the cultural-media stereotype, as far as I can tell. Weezer (-cough- BUTTERSCOTCH.) has gotten/will get the association long before Pavement does, because they are so much more accessible.

Matt (#26)

But which two of the three, Arty? Which two?

Matt (#26)

NOTE: You don't have to answer that. It's better that way, actually.

Michael Dunford (#4,984)

Yeah. Eight-ish years and 5+ (the + is for tapes/cds copied and special edition versions re-bought) album purchases later, I still don't know the majority of Pavement's song names. Reading this article made me feel like I'd missed some songs…turns out I only knew them by riffs.

Sounds like fun, and was fun to read.

hman (#53)

Mark Ibold's hair just never quits.

erikonymous (#3,231)

I was there! The rain did make it more awesome!

I hesitate to conjecture much about what Pavement means to Gen X and the 90s and so on–because I would never pretend to be the biggest Pavement fan in the world, as so, so many have in recent months, and also because I think naming a band "THE BAND" of a decade is redonk–but I don't think it's a generational thing. I was sandwiched between 50 year-olds and teenagers.
And come on, everyone there was a hipster. I use that term pretty broadly though.

kate bryant (#7,583)

I've quoted this before, but according to NY, Gen Xers are between the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution ('64) and the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran ('79).

Hope Pavement plays all my fave songs tonight.

kate bryant (#7,583)

NY Times, that is.

danatrombles (#7,584)

I feel very strongly that this is our "Paul Simon at Central Park" show for our generation. Gen X rules. The band, for one, has aged far better than Simon.

Absolutely not.

Matt (#26)

Did they do the thing they used to do live where "Here" gets all heavy and distorted and shit? Because I really like that thing. I suppose I could check the YouTube but I would rather someone just tell me.

Dave Bry (#422)

Not as fully metal as the version on "Stuff Up the Cracks" (and the "Slanted" reissue.) Started slow and quiet, but reached good heaviosity towards the end. It was great.

Matt (#26)

Awesome. And thank you!

hungrybee (#2,091)

I am jealous of everyone who saw this exact performance of The Hexx.

areaderwrites (#592)

I really need to get that Matador "Slanted and Enchanted" promo poster up on Ebay, don't I?

Brad Nelson (#2,115)

I will be there on Friday and I will expect all of you to have had some dealings on certain shady lanes so as to obtain tickets.

I would like someone soft and like-minded to request "Serpentine Pad" with me.

carpetblogger (#306)

I was at RFK stadium probably 10-12 years ago for one of those giant benefit concerts so popular in the 90s (Tibet, maybe?) during a massive lightning storm during Creed's set. Someone actually got struck during that dumb song Lightning Crashes. I concluded that if you're in a crowd of 60k people and you're the one who gets struck, someone or something is sending you a message and you'd better start figuring out who and what the message is.

God, and "leave me alone."

Dave Bry (#422)

I was there, too. It was pretty terrible. (My roommate from college was a director at the Milarepa fund, that put on the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.) Very scary. I thought it was a bomb when it happened. Lots of smoke. And then when we learned about it-and that the girl had been on the cellphone, and the lightning struck that. Terrible. My friend had what i'm sure remains the hardest day of his life, canceling a concert for 60,000 people, with all these major bands, and big serious interests involved. And then, at the end of the day, going to visit the girl in the hospital. She survived, I think. But I don't know the fullness of her recovery. She almost died, apparently.

Also: and not to be jerk, but just in the interest of true information: the lightning struck during Herbie Hancock's set, I'm pretty sure. (And also, Live sings "Lightning Crashes," not Creed. Though I can certainly see how one might make that mistake. And, yes: that song is dreadful.)

Bob Powers (#7,596)

There is no Awl article that makes me feel more dead-center demographic stereotype than this one does.

And then you go and break out Bedhead in the comments? Stop snooping through my 20's!

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