Referenced in articles nearly as often for his irreverent wit as for being the frontman of Pavement, Stephen Malkmus is a riot. Last Thursday at Slim’s Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks played to a sold-out show, addressed everyone as Stockton (the frontman’s hometown), and somehow got away with it.
Malkmus and his band of cohorts rely on discordant and unexpected moments, and never on an “aah baby, aaah, darling!!” kind of chorus. I had been introduced to their work when Mirror Traffic was released in 2011, and was so excited that the audience sing-along was “Senator”. “I know what the Senator wants/What the Senator wants is a blowjob” …although belting that out at a dude central show by myself raised some furry eyebrows. Whatever. Speaking of lyrics, recent single from Wig Out at Jagbags “Lariat” has what has to be one of the best lines to hear live: “We lived on Tennyson and venison and The Grateful Dead.”
Not to be forgotten or over-looked is Malkmus and bandmate Mike Clark’s serious guitar skills. They’re pros at jam sesh tangents that still sound tight and relevant, never meandering. At one point Malkmus casually slung his instrument behind his back, and kept playing without missing a note. During the encore they dedicated a few songs: “this one’s for shrimpboy” and “this one’s for Parker… Brothers. Makers of great board games.” Between that ending and the middle-aged men behind me who discussed the scientific implications of Jurassic Park before the set, I don’t think anyone took themselves too seriously that night.