Finally, Pavement (two shows +more)

I've been lazy about posting, but it's about the two year anniversary for this little old blog, and the fourth in Pavement's line of reissues has just come out, so the (slacker) stars have aligned. I won't blabber on too much about Pavement or their music, but I will simply say this: they were the coolest, and I was lucky enough to be there to see a good deal of it - from seeing them open for Sonic Youth in '92 to following them on around for all four Texas shows on their last tour in '99 (that's my pic of Malkmus in Houston '99 below). The T-shirt pictured here is a super-rare one from the '97 Brighten the Corners tour, with a Westie-designed tour map on the back. I've met Stephen Malkmus several times, and I'll say unequivocally that he sometimes gets a rap for being an asshole for no good reason. There's a bit of aloofness to his cool, but he's just a plain nice guy (on top of being the coolest motherfucker on the planet). Add the enthusiasm of percussionist/keyboardist/shouter Bob Nastovich, the slack hip swagger of either drummer (Gary Young on the first record, Steve Westie/Westie after that), the aw-shucks manner of bassist Mark Ibold (who is also talented enough to play alongside Sonic Youth) and the always right-on second guitar work of Spiral Stairs (who wrote a handful of Pavement tunes which I must admit never measure up to Malkmus's), and you have one of my favorite bands (and obsessions) of all time. Does anybody remember the old Pavement-Powered website (with tons of music and shows to download)? That was me.

Brighten The Corners begins the polarizing point for many Pavement fans, what some consider the beginning of the downward ride to the end, coming right off the heels of the mercurial fan-favorite Wowee Zowee - but I really think the greatness of Pavement's first three albums are the only thing that overshadow the songs on the last two, especially compared with virtually everything else in indie rock of the time (and even today). I remember Rolling Stone reviewing it at the time and declaring Pavment had finally become a "proper" band. There is a real musical sophistication that begins with Brighten The Corners, and except for a few moments like the rocking single "Stereo" it's overall a much mellower affair than their previous work. The songs seem more deliberated and have more exploratory proggish melodies

And like the rest of the Pavement reissues, this one's full of not only B-sides long cherished by hard-core fans, but plenty that even they haven't heard. For me, that gold nugget would be "Nigel". My friend Brian will instantly recognize it as the lick I play at least a third of the time I pick up a guitar (mine with Malkmus's sig is below). For years, I knew of only two live versions ever played, but something about that (C to Am to) F to G# progression was always just one of the coolest things I ever heard for some reason - I could never get over it. And finally, after nearly ten years of playing my version roughly based on a live version, I get to hear the definitive Pavement studio-recorded version, and it's brilliant:

Pavement "Nigel"

Pavement "Nigel" (live, circa 1997) (not on BTC reissue - Sorry about the bitrate)

Pavement "No Tan Lines" (originally on the Shady Lane single)

And there are 14 live radio tracks on the second disc of the expanded Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition (along with 6 completely unreleased songs, 62-page booklet, B-sides and other goodies), but unfortunately not a full concert like only the first Slanted and Enchanted reissue has had (a concert on vinyl had been available with some preorders which I'm kicking myself for missong out on). To remedy that, here is one of my absolute favorite Pavement concerts from this period. It is definitely one of the more laid-back Pavment shows I've heard, and ends with a hilarious great improv Malkmus wrote for a girl named Amanda. This was the first Pavement boot on cassette I ever received, and the first I painstakingly converted to digital in '00 when my friend Chris first got his ProTools setup. A couple years ago I found a digital version direct from the master, which was a lot clearer than my previous copies but still lacking some punch, so once again I did some limiting/EQing and whatnot. Please enjoy (don't forget you can use DownloadThemAll for ease if you're a Firefox user - see the right sidebar)

Included in the Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition is both songs Pavement performed on the cartoon Space Ghost: Coast To Coast on the Cartoon Network, without the Space Ghost interspersed in the music. Not included in the following video is Space Ghost introducing Pavement as "The Beatles", but the video really helps make it. Poor Goldie.

And for Brian, I'm sorry my blog neglect leaves you sad - here's a short set I came across recently from '92 which has some favorite old gems and which should soothe your hurt butt. Previous copies had "Loretta's Scars" as track 3, but clearly at the end of "She Believes" Malkmus announces "Loretta's Scars" coming, so I fixed that, and if you have this recording you'll notice the obviousness. Other songs and bits are clipped, however, this is just what was broadcast on French radio. Googling for info on this, I found a copy of it in somebody's boot collection with apparently twice as many songs, if anybody knows of anybody who has more of this, please email me - as well if anybody knows what the last song on the Missoula show above is, let me know. Gotta love Bob Nastovish's intro to "No Life Singed Her" on this one, even if you like your job:

2008 has been a so-so year for new music, making the Brighten The Corners 2-CD reissue a perfect stocking stuffer for the musically discriminating person on your holiday list. Buy it direct from Matador Records for 14 bucks.


Oliver said...

I love Pavement

Great blog btw

cubnotbear said...

What's up Scott. It didn't take me but a second to find this blog after searching for pavement. always felt you and me were the one who dug pavement the most.

funeralpudding said...

Zat you Bullet Bob?

Electric Cool said...

Wow! Thanks for putting that Missoula show up for download. I was at that show. It happened during my Junior year at the University. Blew off some serious homework assignments and test cramming that night for the show.

It was an odd venue for them to play (the large cafeteria lounge at the University Center) but it gave the show that much more of an intimate vibe. Saw Scott Kannberg hanging around near some side tables before the gig. Didn't have the nerve to just walk right up and start jabbering. Wish I would've now :).

Anyway, thanks for this gig. It's nice to have a reminder of the fun we had that night.