Not sure that I can add more than what has been said already — by others and myself — elsewhere but the Pavement reunion was totally worth seeing. Pretty sure I lucked out, the Summerstage show on Tuesday (actually the first day of Fall) was reported by one authority to be the best of the tour. I can say with certainly that it was the best Pavement show I ever saw, and I saw them three times back in the day.* They played better, had more fun than the original run and that definitely was felt by the audience.
This was the first show that was announced — way back over a year ago — before the band informed everyone that it would be a whole tour, including five NYC shows. When people at the time asked if I bought tickets, I joked that, dang it, wouldn't you know the Pavement show was the same night as my El Bulli reservation. (Many on twitter thought I was serious.) As I said, I'd seen them back in the day and never found them to be any more than just okay live. Who plans their life 13 months in advance?
Flash forward a year and thanks to my gig writing for another blog, I scored tickets this week. Not that they were hard to get by this week. There were scalpers grumbling "how was I supposed to know they'd end up doing five fucking shows!" outside the gates which is pretty funny. Tickets were going on Craigslist for pretty cheap.
Anyway, I went in with low expectations. And then Pavement were awesome, playing just about every song I wanted to hear. Sure, not "Summer Babe" or "Embassy Row" but I got my favorite-ever song, "Shoot the Singer." Woulda liked "Here," but otherwise no qualms at all. Never considered myself more than a casual fan but I knew every song they played.
The entire band was on but, no surprise, Bob Nastanovich made the night. He cracked jokes, gave out his home address (twice), prowled the stage with various percussion instruments, sang lead like a wild man on "Debris Slide" and "Conduit for Sale." He is Pavement as far as I'm concerned — the fanboy partymonster beating heart to Steve Malkmus' arch detachment.
1999 doesn't really seem that long ago — to me at least — and it's kind of shocking how much they all still look the same, so it didn't really seem like a nostalgia trip so much, as much a "hey, I haven't seen Pavement play in a while." Without having to endure some new so-so album.**
SETLIST: Shady Lane | Frontwards | Heckler Spray | Elevate Me Later | Starlings of the Slipstream | Stereo | Kennel District | Grounded | Rattled By The Rush | We Dance | In The Mouth A Desert | Perfume-V | Unfair | Fin | Gold Soundz | Debris Slide | Range Life | Trigger Cut | Cut Your Hair | Perfect Depth | Fight This Generation | Box Elder |ENCORE: Date With IKEA | Shoot The Singer | Conduit For Sale! | Silent Kid | Heaven Is A Truck | Stop Breathin’
NYC Taper has the whole concert to download. As well as all the other NYC Pavement shows.
While other members were tuning, Bob started singing "Baptist Blacktick" to much hooting and hollering but then SM was all "that song is just two minutes of young vocal chords screaming and we're…" then Bob interjected, "The real truth is 'Baptist Blacktick' is too fast for this age group." Hey!
MP3: Pavement – Embassy Row (buy it)
Pavement lyrics I've never even tried to decipher. I just listen for the many good turns of phrase and enjoy them for that. Which is probably why up I only just recently the the chorus of "Embassy Row" was actually "In the netherworld of foreign thieves." I still like mine better.
*The first of those times was on the final night of the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour, May 14, 1994 in Morgantown, WV (I know 'cause I still have the ticket). I do remember they played "Shoot the Singer" and that SM gave me his drink tickets after the show when I tried to talk to him about the Fall. I clearly didn't need any more drinks. The night is a little fuzzy.