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.
- What happened?
It was on 23 August, 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.
- 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 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
- 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.
- 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. Still, the two videos Pavement released with Wowee Zowee in 1995 were, in one instance, simply a bathtub filled with water, and, in 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.
- 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 competent.
“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 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.