Let me start this by saying that I’m not the biggest Pavement fan. They were one of the groups I checked out when first getting into good music that didn’t actually click. Ever since then I’ve slowly grown in my appreciation of them, but I’ve still got a long way to go. Now, even so, I still really enjoyed their headlining set at Pitchfork.
What I didn’t love was Pavement’s introduction. They brought out an old friend and former radio DJ “Rockin” Rian Murphy out to introduce them/stall for time. Rian was an antagonistic jerk who seemed to be enjoying the fact that most of the audience wasn’t aware that he was playing up his dickishness. But after a few minutes of it, the entire audience was pretty much united against him. Chants of “f*ck you!” were occasionally louder than the microphoned Murphy. Maybe it was because he started his introduction by getting the name of the festival wrong? Confusing Pitchfork and Lollapalooza was just a stupid mistake. And what was the final introduction for a band as influential as Pavement? Murphy sarcastically endorsed illegal downloading and said that we shouldn’t support labels like Merge, Sub Pop or Matador. He then looked off stage, got the thumbs up and said “now here’s Pavement!” Uh… maybe the worst introduction ever?
It didn’t take long for Pavement to impress me. They started off with “Cut Your Hair,” which did a lot to improve upon the damage done by Murphy. We got a lot of fantastic songs early on: “Silence Kit,” “Shady Lane,” “Kennel District” and “Unfair.” It was weird for me to recognize so many songs because I didn’t think I was as knowledgeable of Pavement’s material as I turned out to be. Very pleasant surprise. And if I never managed to be truly hooked by their recordings, I think the live show finally did it. But I mean, what hardened heart wouldn’t be hooked by “Stereo,” “Spit on a Stanger,” “Range Life” or Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning joining on vocals for “Two States.” Just incredible.
And, though I’m no Pavement historian, what seemed the craziest to me was how much fun everyone seemed to be having on stage. Wasn’t this the group that was too cool for school? But here they were, middle aged and having a ball. Even Malkmus couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. And you know what, neither could I. That shit’s contagious at a Pavement show.
More photos after the break