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Stray Slack: Incredible full Pavement concert, Germany 1994
08:05 am



Oh man, what wonders the Internet coughs up. The last thing I’d ever expect would be for there to be a full-concert video of Pavement from their 1994 Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour, “two camera fan-shot (one back, one side). Cams were edited and enhanced with soundboard feed and cam audio matrix-mixed to create excellent professional quality multimedia production.” Wowee Zowee indeed!

This video captures Pavement at their most tuneful point—the audio can’t replace the studio versions but is outright excellent for what it is. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is jammed with idiosyncratic would-be classic rock gems filtered through the early-90s slacker aesthetic, as if Steve Malkmus could transmute the fractured genius of Slanted & Enchanted into a crossover gem. Pavement never got the adoration of the masses that Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins did, but Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain remains a sun-splashed classic. Briefly put, I could listen to this all day—and I probably will.

Full disclosure, I was a super-duper die-hard Pavement fan in the 1990s, I’ve seen them five times in my life, and this show in Frankfurt probably happened within a week or so of my first Pavement show, which took place at Vienna’s Arena. I just spent ten minutes trying to figure out the exact date of that Vienna show, but to no avail—I’d guess it was a few days later. This Frankfurt show in the video happened on March 6, 1994. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain hadn’t even been out for a month yet. Stereolab supported them on the European leg of their tour, at least that’s who opened for them in Vienna. At the time I was so into Pavement that I beseeched a friend in the U.S. to send me any bootlegs he could find. Lo and behold, a few weeks later a CD called Stray Slack arrived in the mail, documenting a 1992 Pavement gig at Brixton Academy as well as a bunch of essential B-sides and stuff. I played that thing to death.

It’s noteworthy that they open the set with an unreleased song, “Pueblo,” which would make it onto 1995’s Wowee Zowee. (Another track from WZ makes the cut as well, being “Brinx Job.”) The boys play nearly every song off of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain—the only ones they leave out were Scott Kannberg’s composition “Hit the Plane Down” as well as “Range Life,” which is curious because the latter quickly became something of a fan favorite. “People don’t do drugs anymore, they just ride carpets,” says Malkmus—yeah, Steve, whatever.

By my druthers there’d be more songs from Slanted & Enchanted, but what are you going to do.

Set list:
Gold Soundz
Silence Kit
5 - 4 = Unity
Cut Your Hair
Elevate Me Later
Newark Wilder
Debris Slide
Trigger Cut
Two States
Brinx Job
Heaven Is a Truck
Box Elder
Stop Breathin
In the Mouth a Desert
Fillmore Jive


via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus played bass in a punk band that opened for Black Flag and others
01:05 pm


Black Flag
Stephen Malkmus

Straw Dogs
Pavement was a pretty fast phenomenon in the early 90s, they seemed to come out of nowhere. Three pretty obscure EPs from 1989 to 1991, then their first full-length set, Slanted & Enchanted, incredibly hit #2 on the 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll in the Village Voice, and they were off to the races.

But if you subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of the work and practice that must pre-date artistic success of that kind—there’s no such thing as people who can do it right away—it might not be so surprising to hear that Stephen Malkmus, Pavement’s lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist, had been toiling away as a bassist in a punk band in his home town of Stockton as early as 1982. The band was called Straw Dogs (great name!) and they were the local openers when West Coast bands like Black Flag, DOA, and the Circle Jerks would come to town.
Straw Dogs
Earlier today Marc Maron dropped an hour-long interview with Malkmus on his WTF podcast, and in the interview, Malkmus discussed his unusual 5-string guitar tuning, his recent obsession with Edgar Allan Poe, and his days as one of the people who “wrote tunes” (his words) for Straw Dogs, a stint that occurred while he was still in high school. (He also discusses his early adoration for Creedence Clearwater Revival and DEVO.)

Here’s the interview snippet where he discusses Straw Dogs (lightly edited, jump to the 31st minute to hear this chunk):

Stephen Malkmus: I was in high school and there were some older dudes that were playing, and it seemed like they were having more fun than the sports guys. …

Marc Maron: What was the first stuff you played? How’d you learn to play?

SM: Eh, punk.

MM: Yeah? …

SM: And then I wrote tunes in the punk band. I was in a punk band.

MM: What were they called?

SM: Straw Dogs, ah, from the West Coast. Not—there’s a Boston one. Not that anyone’s gonna notice. They probably listen to your podcast, but….

MM: In the van.

SM: Yeah, we were a band in Stockton. We opened for some other groups, from back in the day.

MM: Oh yeah? Like who?

SM: Like um, I’m just gonna brag a little bit here, um, Circle Jerks, Black Flag ...

MM: All the LA punk bands?

SM: TSOL, Code of Honor, DOA ...

MM: Really.

SM: Some bands like that, yeah. Always the first on, for twenty bucks, but we did play.

MM: Were you like 20 years old?

SM: No, I was 16.

MM: Oh, so you’re the local guys, that you were just…. and punk was so sort of marginal anyway, so the scene was pretty small, I would probably imagine, at that time.

SM: Very small. There was a couple bands from Stockton. A very good one called the Authorities, they did one single. They were the only ones that got documented. We played in Sacramento, San Francisco, just that triangle, for like one year.

As I mentioned, it does help to explain why Malkmus could seem so very polished and assured even though he was a relatively new face in 1991: He’d already been doing this in some form for nine years or so.

Via Stereogum, I found “a Santa Barbara high school newspaper profile of Malkmus” in which his activities in Straw Dogs are confirmed. Malkmus was born in 1966, so he would have been sixteen (a junior, as mentioned in the article) in 1982, which lines up perfectly with the two posters on this page. The Black Flag gig happened on Friday, April 22, 1983, and the Circle Jerks gig happened on Thursday, April 19, 1984.
The Straw Dogs, by the way, are active, even if Malkmus isn’t doing anything with them, being busy with the Jicks and all. They have an active Facebook presence, on which Malkmus is listed as the bassist on the “About” page.

Sadly, there’s no extent recordings of early Straw Dogs, either live or studio—as Malkmus says, they went “undocumented.” So here’s a slab of early Pavement; in my opinion early Pavement is the best Pavement anyway.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment