Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spiral Stairs / Mac McCaughan at the Cat's Cradle Back Room - 6/27/2017

Spiral Stairs
With Mac McCaughan
Cat's Cradle Back Room
6/27/2017

Hey, I saw  Mac McCaughan play again!  For those keeping track at home, you're doing better than me - I've lost count at this point the number of times I've seen the Superchunk frontman in his various forms.  He played sitting down with an acoustic guitar, which seems normal but I feel like most of the times I've seen him solo he's played an electric.  There were a couple of new songs, some of his solo songs, and of course a few Superchunk songs - "Driveway to Driveway," "Sick to Move," "Digging for Something," the rarely heard but awesome "Rope Light," and "Nu Bruises," which Mac noted might be the first time he's ever played that one on an acoustic guitar.  Given that I've gone to see this man play dozens upon dozens of times, is it even necessary to point out that it was great?  Well, it was, as always. 

Back in my Bay Area days, I got to see Scott Kannberg's first post-Pavement band Preston School of Industry a few times since he was also living in the area at the time, and it was always delightful - more understated/less bombastic than the work Stephen Malkmus was putting out by himself, but just as catchy.  Soon after he started performing under the name Spiral Stairs (his nickname on the early Pavement records), but his sound remained the same.  And then after the release of "The Real Feel" in 2009...he disappeared.  Yadda yadda yadda, it's a few years and some random festival Pavement reunions later, he puts out a really good new platter called "Doris & the Daggers," goes on tour, and luckily I get to see him play again for the first time in at least a decade.  They kicked off their set with a cover of Roxy Music's "Flesh and Blood," which reminded me to listen to more Roxy Music (I have this same thought every time I hear Roxy Music).  After that, it was lots of tracks from the new record, and towards the end they even tossed in a couple of Preston School of Industry gems.  This was all great, don't get me wrong, but my inner fanboy ecstatic he was ending the show with a few Pavement jams.  Looking at his set lists from other gigs this is pretty common, but you know what's not common?  Pavement drummer Steve West was at the show as a spectator, and actually got behind the kit for a four-song pseudo-Pavement reunion: "Hit the Plane Down," "Date with IKEA," "Kennel District," and the one that unsurprisingly got the biggest sing-a-long, "Two States."  It was a little sloppy, as I don't think Steve had played these songs in ages, but that just added to the charm.  It was a great night all around, and hopefully it's not another decade before Spiral Stairs decide to do this again.  Also, a full reunion Pavement tour would be totally fine with me. 

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