Since their breakup in 1999, it has been the dearest daydream of Pavement fans everywhere that someday they would reunite, bringing peace to the Middle East, and dogs and cats together to live in harmony. 2007 brought rumors of an appearance at Coachella, and then nothing. The 20th anniversary of the band and of Matador Records came and went in silence. Finally, reports from Brooklyn Vegan in September of 2009 announcing three benefit performance dates (in September of 2010) (which sold out in two minutes) allowed fans a glimmer of hope.
When non-festival dates were released, many wondered what exactly a reunion show for a band like Pavement would entail. There had been no recently released material, with the exception of the Quarantine the Past: Best Of album, and the band made it clear to expect neither subsequent tours nor future material. In the April Spin article “Inside Pavement’s Reunion,” lead singer Stephen Malkmus appeared to understand the desire for this particular tour and encapsulated the sentiment of his fan base perfectly: “Music is about nostalgia. From the minute you hear a song for the second time, you’re reliving it.” There is no better summation for what was happening to fans seeing Pavement at the Paramount this past Sunday night.
And that appeared to be exactly what was happening for fans seeing Pavement at the Paramount this past Sunday night.
In short, Pavement’s was easily one of the best reunion performances one could ask for. The musicianship was polished and tight, the band seemed genuinely excited and happy for the opportunity to play together, and the individuality of each member shone through clearly. From the DIY intimacy of the bare-bulb light show to the brotherly playfulness between the band members, there was a natural, effortless feel to their presentation, transporting listeners back to when they first discovered the band. There was a raw power in the appreciative scream that rose from the crowd when the first chords to “Cut Your Hair” rang out; audience members could be seen and heard high-fiving, raising fists in the air, and audibly gasping in response to the opening notes of each song.
The set list was near perfection, heavily bookended by tracks from Slanted and Enchanted and Brighten the Corners, with the middle comprised more of a mixture of Wowee Zowee and Crooked Crooked Rain. The arrangement was such that the tempo of the show was very evenly paced between the crazed eardrum-shattering antics of Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, and the lower-key songs of ‘Spiral Stairs’ Scott Kannberg / Malkmus. Bassist Mark Ibold maintained a bemused-yet-stoic expression throughout most of the set, cracking a shy grin at Steve Malkmus as he tumbled to his back to wail, or to see a maniacal Bob Nastanovich running in circles around the stage playing the tambourine and screaming lyrics at the top of his lungs.
Drummer Steve West was all smiles all night, and his enthusiasm appeared to be infectious to the rest of the group. Wry Steve Malkmus is always good for a sardonic quip, and the gems of the evening included “Fuck is the new thank you,” and “I feel like I can joke about Eastern Washington because my biological mother, 4 of my stepdads, and my crack dealer are all from there,” which he later half-heartedly apologized for, eliciting laughter from the crowd, the band, and even himself.
That anecdote perhaps best reflects the sentiment of the whole evening. It was quite simply, for lack of a better word, fun. The crowd clearly loved being there, the band clearly loved playing for them, and the lingering twitterpated buzz still hasn’t quite worn off. Come on — who can’t help but high-five themselves when they start a story with “When I saw Pavement on Sunday night…”?
“Cut Your Hair”
“In the Mouth of a Desert”
“Date With Ikea”
“Starlings of the Slipstream”
“Rattled by the Rush”
“Conduit for Sale”
“Fight this Generation”
“Father to a Sister of Thought”
“Spit on a Stranger”