Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks @ Pageant

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks @ The Pageant
TP Minnick

A small crowd of plaid-covered hipsters and older Pavement-cult fans filled the Pageant on November 1. To my worry, the pit remained practically empty until halfway through Blitzen Trapper’s opening set. Blitzen Trapper burned through their set of folk-rock with most of the material coming from their newest Sub Pop album, Furr. The lead singer drew parallels to Bob Dylan with lackadaisical vocals and powerful harmonica intros. The pit started to fill up when Blitzen Trapper closed the set with the spastic riff for “Devils a Go-Go”, featuring a guest appearance from Jicks drummer, Janet Weiss.

Malkmus began the show with the stellar “It Kills”, one of the few songs he played from his older catalogue. The slacker guitar pioneer swayed back and forth with his Fender Jazzmaster, cranking pop ballads and dirty distortion out of his Orange-brand amp that he so appropriately renamed the b-ange-r. The first half of the set was filled with tracks from the Jicks recent studio album, Real Emotional Trash. “Gardenia” and “Hopscotch Willie” were crowd favorites, with the audience ringing in and out as Malkmus pulled away from the mic. After a jumping rendition of “(Do Not Feed The) Oyster”, Malkmus teased the Pavement-heads with lyrics from “Gold Soundz”, after reading it on a fan shirt. Although this ended quickly, Malkmus continued to fulfill his slacker profile by shooting crunchy fuzz at the audience with his guitar neck machinegun movements. The source of this noise was from a “Real Emotional Fuzz” distortion box, actually given to Malkmus as a gift during the set.

The Jicks proved to be an exciting backing band, with Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss pounding away at the drums and Mike Clark and Joanna Bolme making the full sound possible. At the end of the show, Malkmus prepped the crowd for a “ten minute epic”. Ignoring the crowd request for “Freebird”, the Jicks played “Real Emotional Trash”, a modern indie epic that was my favorite off the new album. A special delight came in the encore when Blitzen Trapper joined the Jicks to do an enthusiastic rendition of “Funk #49” by the James Gang. Malkmus perfectly echoed the funky vocals while over ten people danced and played on stage.

Afterward, we grabbed setlists, talked to the guys in Blitzen Trapper, made an attempt to meet Malkmus, and tried to find someone to jump the dead battery in the car. Using Halloween candy as a bribe, we approached person after person until we finally found refuge in a promising group of adults with tucked in shirts and no curfews. No setback could disrupt the joyful pleasure I felt after seeing one of my 90’s slacker heroes continue to play the game over a decade later.

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