Thursday, September 17, 2009


The indie-rock world and music critics everywhere are all psyched over the news that Pavement is reuniting. A lot of people who I respect really like them, but I am not really a fan (despite enjoying some of thier songs, like "Summer Babe").

At one point, Pavement had me thinking I shouldn't read music magazines anymore and here's why: I'd read SO much about them before I'd even heard them. And then when I'd heard them, I felt like they were very... OK. I know that there are people who will totally write me off for expressing this opinion, but there you have it. I kind of suspect with certain people, they kind of have to like them, out of a weird sort of hipster peer pressure. I know a lot of indie rock loving females have a thing for Stephen Malkmus (the frontman), but I kind of always thought of them as a bit eunuch-y. They were so post-everything: post-grunge, post-arena rock, post-trying hard, way too clever, and making fun of bands who were way out of their league (like Rush, for one) .

I saw them live at the first Tibetan Freedom Concert: they were on the bill with The Beastie Boys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, A Tribe Called Quest, John Lee Hooker, de la soul, The Fugees, The Foo Fighters... they were pretty out of their league. Or if not out of their league, they were far from their usual clique. Most of these artists were larger than life, and Pavement struck me as the guys who snicker at anyone who attempts to be larger than life. Still, they were pretty good - their best songs were a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Beginning To See The Light" and the Schoolhouse Rock song "No More Kings." Even they couldn't be their usual cynical selves about the Tibetan situation. Hearing the monks speak (many through translators) was really moving. Soon after, I'd read that someone from Pavement said that it was one of their best shows ever. They weren't one of the best performances of that day, but OK. I saw them a few years later on Lollapalooza, and they weren't as good.

It seems ironic somehow that they are doing a reunion, they always seemed to be the band who were so anti- that kind of thing. But maybe the guys need to pay their mortgages, I can't be mad at that (although I bet some of their "fans" are). I wouldn't mind checking them out when they play Central Park - I wouldn't pay for it though - I think I'd be just as interested as watching the fans as the band. Anyway, I'm never mad at reunions. If it makes people happy, then great.

P.S. in other news about bands who the hipster union requires its members to like, Sascha Frere-Jones puts this year's Pavement (or this year's Air Supply/Ambrosia), Animal Collective, on blast in The New Yorker. He refers to them as a "communal hallucination." Wow. This is why I'd never last as a rock critic, I'd never come up with that!

UPDATE: maybe not everyone is happy. The Daily Swarm is tracking the Pavement backlash!

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