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The Road Less Traveled

Haute coutre is not a priority to the members of Pavement.

Photo by Danny Clinch

Stockton's Pavement stand and deliver at the Fillmore

By Todd S. Inoue

The legend of Pavement's live show can be summed up in two words that better describe asphalt: long and flat.

But that's alright. Lambasted as lazy and sloppy, the kings of lo-fi pop revel in "feel" over musicality. Pavement glom onto a particular strum or groove because it feels good. If Pavement received a blow-up doll, they'd start blowing it up, get tired halfway through, and have fun with it right there. "Kill 'em all" is not on the Pavement game plan.

It's impossible to make love to Pavement, some diehard fans were making the most of its 90-minute set last Sunday at the Fillmore. For the other 97% of the crowd who weren't pogoing ecstatically, appreciation was expressed internally, occasionally exhibited by the Indie Pop Head BobTM.

Last Sunday, Pavement looked sentient, more willing to twiddle away than blow doors. Debuting with "Shady Lane," Stephen Malkmus kept a low profile, facing the audience from the side, tapping his foot on the monitor. He turned down shouts for songs with a curt "We don't play that anymore, but thank you for the request." Mark Ibold thumbed his bass as if in a dorm room jam session. Drummer Steve West smacked his hair a couple times with his drum sticks and spent a lot of time scratching his beard, mid-song. Bob Nastanovich, percussionist and keyboardist, was the sole visual distraction--indie pop's own Flava Flav. Bob huffed into the microphone and smacked tambourines and wood blocks.

Pavement's "slow jams" ("Grave Architecture," "Stop Breathing," "Transport is Arranged, "Type Slowly") were half-speed exhibitions in show-stopping coitus interruptus. These moments were crossfaded with country-tinged whippersnappers ("Slowly Typed") and upbeat jangle pop ("Stereo," "Wanna Mess Your Around.") Borderline Pavement fans were content with the alternative rock hit "Cut Your Hair" which they rendered with care and determination. Malkmus' malapropism, switching "career" and "Korea" and "animal" and "enema" kept ears a tweak.

In the end, Pavement latched onto moments of simplistic strum and drang with a thick, semiotic filling. At one point, Nastanovich broke it down. "Fuck Puffy, that's what we came to say tonight," he said, feistily.

Malkmus acknowledged it. With that, Pavement slid into Crooked Rain's "Range Life," which set the sold-out crowd on its first, triumphant sing-a-long:

    Stone Temple Pilots they're elegant bachelors They're foxy to me are they foxy to you I will agree, they deserve Absolutely nothing, nothing more than me Dream dream dream dream...

It was an evening where nonsense won over common sense, a frothy toast to future battles to be won, if they get challenged, if they feel like it.

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Web exclusive to the Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 1997 issue of Metro.

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