Friday, October 14, 2011

Stephen Malkmus & Ty Segall live, Crystal Ballroom, Portland, Oct. 13, 2011

well, first of all, what a line-up.... Stephen Malkmus AND Ty Segall?!?! 

bit of a two-fer for me. i like them both.

the second thing i want to say is that Stephen Malkmus should be on anyone's short list of the most creative guitarists around today. And not a bad songwriter either.

i do dig his laconic sensibility/delivery. "wry" is a word that leaps to mind. but his considerable banter with the audience (including a shout out to the "Occupy" protests) makes it clear he is no snob - just a weirdo, and of course i mean that in the best possible way.

i saw Pavement back in the day at the Tibet Freedom Concert in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco), but unfortunately i mostly knew of him as the guy that Billy Corgan hated (look it up if you must).

i started a personal Pavement retrospective a few years ago after seeing him with The Jicks in Big Sur, California, under the stars at the incredibly beautiful Henry Miller Library. he was playing the songs from Real Emotional Trash, but also played Senator and a few other new songs. at that time, the Larry Craig scandal was still fresh and everyone snorted the beer they were drinking back out through their nose after hearing i know what the senator wants, what the senator wants is a blowjob... for the first time. i was fascinated by his guitar playing that night, and took a million distorted pictures that i thought looked cool at the time. (did i mention it was my birthday and mushrooms were involved?)

and then we got to see the Pavement reunion thing. they were great at coachella, and i caught them in brooklyn also, although the videos i shot there were shit as i was drunk on vodka. not their fault. they still put on a good show despite my shortcomings (sorry to all the people whose feet i stepped on that night)

wait! three more random adjectives re: Malkmus/Pavement: absurdist, Beefheart-y, jazzy.

so now that i've moved to portland, the "locals" i wanted to see most were M. Ward and Stephen Malkmus, and now i've seen them both.

the new Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks new album Mirror Traffic is really fucking great. you gotta go listen to it right away. i think earlier i called it something like "Smart Pop for Grown Ups" but it was cool to see how many kids were there. that's fantastic that the 40-something Malkmus can speak to such an age range.

by the way, Stephen, thanks for the opportunity to gratuitously use the term "blowjob" a few times in this article. for some reason, it seems to increase the number of hits my blog gets considerably.

speaking of senator, which is kind of their first single from the album (right?), they didn't play that one at the Crystal... although they did play Love is Like Oxygen (Sweet 1978... wouldn't Sweet's Ballroom Blitz be more punk? at least they didn't do Fox on the Run, although they would have made that sound cool too...) 

i caught Stephen a few months ago (solo) at a pancake breakfast benefit, at which he did Love is Like Oxygen and a bunch of other 1970s singer/songwriter forgotten "classics". at first we thought it would be an ironic 1970s song or two, then on to more challenging turf, but no, the entire set was covers from the 70s. no Jicks, no Pavement, no nothing. and then like the next day he announces Mirror Traffic, the Beck-produced gem collection, put on hold for the Pavement reunion for a year or two.

uh, no hard feelings.

the new album.... so good.... i also really like the outtake Surreal Teenagers, which they played at the Crystal and recently on the Jimmy Fallon show

Surreal Teenagers

We saw some excellent guitar work all night, such manual dexterity, tossed off in the most casual way. he obviously has practiced for thousands of hours, but is undoubtedly a bit of a natural on the guitar. so expressive, so clean, so twisted.

some standouts were Forever 28 and Brain Gallop from the new album, the title song from the last album Real Emotional Trash, and the last encore song, a blistering version of the Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield classic Mr. Soul.

Real Emotional Trash went on and on forever, to the delight of the crowd. 

Another hometown triumph for Stephen Malkmus.

{Update: wait! in addition to throwing out Captain Beefheart as an influence, i'm gonna also submit, for your consideration... gulp.... The Grateful Dead...}

Ty Segall deserves a little bit of digital ink too. 

please indulge me here with these distorted pictures. i know they are far from perfect, but i think they capture something of the spirit of things:

video of the first song from the Crystal, the title song from the new album Goodbye Bread:

[Update: it's hella fun to do Pavement retrospectives every coupla months...]

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