When Pavement Sends You Running for Cover

21st July 2021

Did you see Pavement at Reading Festival?

It is the oldest popular music festival in existence today. In the last five decades, Reading Festival has hosted big bands and acts, such as Nirvana in 1992, Paramore in 2014, and Metallica in 1997.

If you want to listen to some nineteen nineties era rock that you could share with friends, you should have no problem finding Pavement’s discography. They are an unparalleled example of a fun, witty rock and roll band, that won accolades and a level of popularity that has helped their discography endure.

  1. What happened?

It was on 23 August 1991, during their two-week Europe tour with rock band Sonic Youth, that the band played at Reading, an approximately 40-minute set.

Pavement was a five-member band, although Stephen Malkmus, Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg, and Gary Young alone formed the band in 1989. Pavement recorded the music at Gary’s studio, Louder than you Think.

The song from those sessions includes Box Elder, seeming to be about leaving town in frustration, which enjoyed some interest. The Chicago record label Drag City handled it.

  1. Why it was so awesome

On 23 August, ’91, the band was playing on the strengths of a 7″ single, Summer Babe (Winter Version), and three earlier EPs. The first full-length LP was a big deal, as Matador Records was working to help make Pavement a name for themselves. Meanwhile, Geffen Records was getting Sonic Youth major success, Sonic Youth having previously been shoegazers best known for their song Death Valley ’69.

Both Sonic Youth and Pavement are influential music acts.

Death Valley ’69 (Sonic Youth, 1985) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1zPOcllS9Q

Refute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6C78dcy8-w

  1. What the crowd thought

Despite obscurity in 1991, Pavement was becoming a success. Pavement’s most recent album now is Quarantine the Past, and the time seems right for both old songs and unseen material.

The unreleased songs from Pavement won’t be hard to find. Bandcamp is making it available in different formats in April. Besides the reissue of Spit on a Stranger from 1999, there is a set of all their music.

You don’t need to hear the complete collection if Pavement interests you. You could begin with Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, which is their best-known release.

  1. What the band said about Reading

The members of Sonic Youth and Pavement became pretty good friends. When Malkmus turned his attention to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, he sold a lot of units, but not as much of Pavement’s music after that found the same popularity.

Certainly, it would have been more difficult to make videos that would have been more popular with MTV audiences, but the two videos Pavement released with Wowee Zowee in 1995 were, in one instance, simply a bathtub filled with water, and, the second one, the band appeared to be in a country-rock video, even though they were known for their straightforward rock music.

Perhaps Malkmus was being difficult. I like the Father to a Sister of Thought video, but Wowee Zowee obviously had little chance to break into the country music market, being an experimental rock album.

  1. You can’t see them, but they were great!

You can get an idea of what they were like with the second CD from Slanted and Enchanted Luxe and Reduxe, where, for example, the discs include the song Frontwards from the Watery, Domestic EP, in both its studio recording and also played live, at Brixton Academy, in December of 1992.

An MTV video from 1995 of Pavement talking at Reading can be seen on YouTube. You can watch how they handled themselves when they are talking somewhat candidly.

Pavement is a band that you might find interesting if only for the sake of hearing songs that are both unique and entertaining. Like Range Life, from Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, or In the Mouth a Desert, on Slanted and Enchanted. Artistically, Stephen Malkmus is very capable.

“Thanks for coming to Reading Festival this year. As you probably already know, we’ve got a few of our most interesting acts playing live on the Main Stage: Arctic Monkeys, Rage Against The Machine and Megan Thee Stallion. We also have some other great names, such as Bring Me The Horizon and Halsey.”

I’m joking, I’m not a Reading Festival emcee 😉 Those artists are apparently in for Reading this year, however.

What year would you choose to time travel to and why? #bloganuary

If I could time travel, I would go from 2022, back to the year 1994. Major league baseball players walked out. It was Tom Hanks’ second consecutive Best Actor Oscar win. Woodstock ’94 recalled the original concert. I wouldn’t want to create a paradox.

I would have to go to a department store or mall to buy clothing in style, like oversized sweatshirts, sweaters, and t-shirts. I would likewise move away from the town where I carry on with my life, as not to run into my seventeen-year-old self, of 1994.

It would have been cool to see Pavement play a show in 1994 when their record album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was a commercially-significant album. They weren’t a characteristically commercial rock band. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain briefly took Pavement to the top of the rock music industry, an industry much different today than it was then. I’ve heard quite a few recordings of Pavement playing live, and I would have liked to be in attendance when they were most famous. Some people really gravitate to Pavement. By the way, Pavement is doing a reunion tour this year, in 2022, and releasing a box set with both old and unreleased recordings on April 8. Stephen Malkmus, Pavement’s frontman, returned to the stage recently with a different band. Rolling Stone reported on it.

Stephen Malkmus Debuts Two New Songs at First Live Show Since 2019 https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/stephen-malkmus-new-songs-live-1287728/

However, the YouTube audio of the show on the Rolling Stone site is poor.

Pavement’s hit Cut Your Hair went into rotation on MTV at the time. Here it is (not a particularly formulaic music video presentation):

They also performed it for a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Maybe I could trade my mall t-shirt for a band shirt. Bling.

MCMXCVII #badglowup

For Jim Adams’ blog bounce, for Sunday, January 10, 2021, Jim has requested MA, meaning a tune with a title that begins with either the letter M or with the letter A.

https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/mature-audience/

I thought of a song with an unusual title, that begins with A.

“And Then (The Hexx)” is a song by Pavement, a b-side on Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger” single in May 1999, I read somewhere. It sort of provides a conclusion to the 1997 Pavement album Brighten the Corners. Quietly now, that’s the Pavement record where the entire quintet is performing–it’s sometimes known as “dream pop.”

A second version of the song “And Then (The Hexx)” is again the conclusion to the next, and last, Pavement album, Terror Twilight. Strictly speaking, to the best of my understanding, the song is “And Then (The Hexx)” for the Brighten the Corners b-side, and simply “The Hexx” for Terror Twilight.

Rock musician Steve Malkmus, who around the year 1990 put together ideas for what became a classic all-American rock record, Slanted & Enchanted, while the young man was in high school in Stockton, California. Nice work if you can get it.

“And Then (The Hexx)” is eerie, and it has happiness to it as well.

Malkmus has reinvented himself twice since Pavement folded. First he played as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and more recently, since 2018, just Stephen Malkmus. I’ve seen video of Malkmus performing his songs by himself for the groove denied tour.

Terror Twilight producer Nigel Godrich was keeping active on Twitter in December 2020, when he tweeted on the thirteenth of December, 2020, that, despite what Godrich called “the dark” of December, Godrich preferred the advice,”get your SAD lamp out and party!” SAD indicates seasonal affective disorder, mild depression brought about by lack of sunlight, in a cold climate.

Just updated my @stationrotatio1 December Vibes…… dark and beautiful month… I’m looking forward to the new year and new times with salivation. Stare at a wall and enjoy…. or get your SAD lamp out and party! #stationrotation https://t.co/nslwbKGr5v https://t.co/gcbQXFs5el— nigel godrich ?? (@nigelgod) December 13, 2020

The feeling echoes what Steve Malkmus said for the 2002 documentary Slow Century. Godrich’s observation is certainly deliberate.

“Get your handkerchiefs out,” Malkmus says, “and party.”

Writing for a Chicago online mag highlighting music, motion pictures, and TV, consequence of sound’s DAN CAFFREY says, “‘Spit on a Stranger’ looks back on a relationship that’s gone kaput — maybe a relationship with a band.”

I have the impression that, of the five band members in the band in 1999, that other than Steve Malkmus, they wanted to hang it up.

When touring the Terror Twilight record, Malkmus often hung a pair of handcuffs on stage, from his mic stand, to illustrate how he felt making a living in a rock band.

Dissected: Pavement
BY DAN CAFFREY
ON AUGUST 11, 2015, 3:00PM

https://consequenceofsound.net/2015/08/dissected-pavement/full-post/

“Terror Twilight,” Caffrey writes, “has a reputation of being Pavement’s tamest album, and that’s true, musically speaking — the tempos are sturdier and there’s much less yowling, despite a ripping harmonica solo (?!) from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.” Wikipedia says Jonny Greenwood, from Radiohead, played harmonica both for “Platform Blues,” and for “Billie,” both of which are Terror Twilight songs, Billie penned about Billy Graham.

Whether the various elements of Terror Twilight, Caffrey says for consequence of sound, scare the shit out of you or not, the lyrics prove that, even when they had run out of momentum and had to be practically forced by Godrich to come up with new material (the band reportedly was more concerned with playing Scrabble than recording) — even when music didn’t sound quite like itself, Pavement was still Pavement.

I saw in a more recent interview, it is somewhat eluding me where I heard this (I think it was organized by Vanity Fair for Seattle radio not too long ago), when Malkmus was talking about getting ready to play shows with Pavement, Malkmus said that to this day he enjoys the game of Scrabble.

I presume that’s Pavement fandom knowledge. Malkmus has said publicly he got really quite good. In a round of Scrabble, you make words on the game board utilizing letters, which add to the score.

Anyway, some fans consider “And Then (The Hexx)” to be a Brighten the Corners song, because of the 2009 rerelease of Brighten the Corners with the second CD with “And Then (The Hexx).” It is also the conclusion to Terror Twilight, which when discussed is usually just called “The Hexx.”

I still like to think of “The Hexx” as “And Then (The Hexx),” and that’s why it fits into Jim’s MA prompt challenge. However, the true release date of “And Then (The Hexx)” should be 1997, not 1999.

Pavement
And Then (the Hexx)
Composed by
Stephen Malkmus

Release Year
1997

The Hexx

WordPress Discover: Orchestrate

social distancing

Today’s Discover challenge, by Michelle Weber, is about the word “orchestrate.” The last piece of music which moved me is the song battle born by The Killers.


The Killers

Up against the wall (Up against the wall) There’s something dying on the street When they knock you down (Up against the wall) You’re gonna get back on your feet Cause you can’t stop now (Cause you can’t stop now) Did they break your heart? (Did they break your heart?) And did they cause your soul to mourn Remember what I said Boy you was battle born

While The Killers are a great band, I didn’t initially have a strong positive reaction to this song of theirs.  Eventually, though, it began to move me the way a piece of music does, giving me the odd moment of pause while relevance in the song hits home with me.

What would it be that is “dying on the street?” I wonder briefly when I hear it.  There is a Pavement song from 1995, Grounded, that has a similar lyric. Both are interesting songs.

Everything Is Nice: The Matador Records 10th Anniversary Anthology