Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks / Lithics at the Cat’s Cradle - 6/19/2018
After more than 20 years of going to shows, it’s rare that I’m late. Hey, It’s not my fault Carrburritos was that crowded! But it might have been my fault I left the house much later than I should have. Anyways, despite knowing that I would like Lithics after listening to their latest “Mating Surfaces” leading up to this gig, I sadly only got there in time for a song and a half from them. It was exactly what I was hoping for – a female-fronted, slightly more subdued version of Ex-Models. If that doesn’t mean anything to you (it should, Ex-Models were fantastic), think a modern, punkier Devo. They seem young, so hopefully that means they tour a lot and I can manage to show up on time should they appear here again.
It had been quite a while since I had seen Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks live (or any Malkmus configuration, for that matter), but I have been enjoying their latest record “Sparkle Hard,” so it seemed worth the effort. Pavement were always notoriously hit or miss live - I think my personal tally was two good shows and one that was thoroughly lifeless & mediocre – but other than possibly being drunk, Malkmus delivered this evening. He was very talkative and funny between nearly every song – amongst all the rambling there were multiple mentions of Skunk Baxter (specifically the amount of drugs in his mustache), and at one point after someone yelled out “Charlottesville” he responded “Thomas Jefferson…he’s in the musical ‘Hamilton,’ so he’s legit.” Stephen also doesn’t look like he’s aged in 20 years, which is particularly infuriating to this fat and bald slob. You can also forget what a good guitarist he is until you see him play live – none of the music Malkmus has recorded over the years really stands out for its technical wizardry when you listen to it, but there is often a lot high-level guitar playing going on in those songs. As for the actual set of music performed on this night, it was a lot of the new record plus a few older jams like “Jenny And The Ess-Dog” scattered throughout – looking at set lists from rest of the tour, this appears to be fairly typical. The real highlight was the encore – just like when Spiral Stairs played last year, Pavement drummer Steve West made his way down from Virginia and joined Malkmus for a pseudo-Pavement reunion. They played two songs, “Shady Lane” and “In The Mouth A Desert”…the crowd was obviously way into it. If I could make one suggestion to other bands out there – include a near reunion of Pavement as part of your encore, it goes over like gangbusters.