September 30, 2010
Is the Pavement reunion tour really over? While nothing has been confirmed about the future of the band, it seemed like it a swan song performance by Pavement at the Hollywood Bowl. It was only a few months ago that Pavement descended upon the Fox Theater in Pomona for a blistering warm up show to their Coachella appearance in April as they launched their US tour.
Kicking off the evening with their biggest hit “Cut Your Hair,” Pavement's guitars jangled pleasantly as Stephen Malkmus laconically delivered the lyrics punctuated by the backing vocal screams of Bob Nastonovich. It was a perfect evening for the warm fuzz of “Frontwards” to wash over the crowd as Mark Ibold gleefully plucked his bass center stage. “Gold Soundz” sounded as vital as ever having recently being deemed the number one song of the 1990s by Pitchfork.
The hits just kept coming with the tonal squalls of “Shady Lane” and the disjointed guitars of “Rattled By The Rush”. Showing some appreciation for openers, Malkmus dedicated “Grounded” to Sonic Youth. Long before it was a sketch on Saturday Night Live, the roaring cowbell of “Silence Kit” gave me flashbacks to my college days. Scott Kannberg took a turn on vocals for the drop-D tuned guitars of “Date With IKEA.”
Malkmus thanked their crew for helping them on this tour but refused to name names since some “bad shit went down and penal codes were broken.” Selecting more tunes from their album Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, “Unfair” had Nastonovich enthusiastically charged into the crowd to scream out his vocal parts while Malkmus wildly swung his guitar through the air.
Half jokingly Malkmus quipped that they knew how to kill a vibe with the mellow mood of “Spit On A Stranger”. “In The Mouth A Desert” had Kannberg and Malkmus hunched over their guitars furiously coaxing out feedback before Malkmus ended the song with a huge sonic fuzz bomb while detuning his guitar.
Pavement soon found themselves rushing to beat the curfew as I overheard Malkmus say “Let's Go!” prior to the alternative country feel of “Range Life” which was lyrically alterated as to not offend the Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots. “Here” was an ironic closer as Malkmus sang about being “dressed for success but success it never comes” while standing on stage at the Hollywood Bowl.
Sonic Youth tore through a vicious set that excluded usual second bassist Mark Ibold who played later with Pavement. With a career spanning 30 years, Sonic Youth has always carved their own path and refuse to play by any set of rules. Thurston Moore meant business early by breaking a guitar string on the first song. Lee Renaldo would later use a bow on his guitar to coax out some feedback while Kim Gordon used a direct approach by scraping her bass across the stage. They could have opted for a radio hit or two, but they wouldn't be Sonic Youth if they did. Death Valley '69 was a highlight with its torrential storm of noise.
No Age revealed an expanded three person line up for their noise filled set. Gearing up for the release of their album Everything In Between, Randy Randall and Dean Spurt recreated their vortex of noise that is indebted to their noisy forefathers Sonic Youth. Spurt showed his exuberance momentarily by holding up a bootleg shirt exclaiming it was made by his parents. Quite the debut for a band used to playing at the Smell.
Personal Bias: I used to play Pavement at my college radio station when I was a deejay.
Crowd: Flannel would have made a more prominent appearance if it wasn't for the heat.
Overheard in the Crowd: “What's Pavement's most popular song again?”
“Cut Your Hair”
“Rattled By The Rush”
“Date With IKEA”
“Spit On A Stranger”
“In the Mouth A Desert”