Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Granada Theater - 2/21/12

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Granada Theater Tuesday, February 21

There was a noticeable difference between the Jicks of last night and the reunited Pavement I saw at Stubb's in Austin in 2010, mainly in that the Jicks looked happy to be there. Stephen Malkmus walked onto the Granada stage in a trucker cap and jeans, and rolled a heavy jam right out of the gate.

Pavement's music was always like foreplay -- there's the build, the build, the build and then the nail. The Jicks' music follows suit, but is built more around tempo changes and rhythmic shifts than feedback and dissonance. Drummer Jake Morris, formerly of Portland's The Joggers, was the linchpin, and saved many of the songs from coming this close to jam band territory.

Not that there's anything wrong with that; Malkmus' blues and classic rock influences have never been out of reach, even in Pavement, but his solo material is more structured around the guitar work, not so much the lyrics. He's the king of the extended jam, and nearly every song had one. "Senator" and "Share the Red" from last year's Beck-produced Mirror Traffic showed Malkmus getting his real emotional trash out in the form of ripping solos. Solo therapy. Is he an underrated guitarist? Yes, but many of the guitar parts were indistinguishable from song to song.

The encore inevitably came, and we were treated to an off-center cover of Elton John's "Benny & the Jets" and a half-assed version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Knowing Pavement and Nirvana's history, I had to wonder if it was a diss or a tribute, but I don't think Malkmus lost much sleep over it.

By the way: Malkmus made a DC9 at Night reference, and I'm sure he was referring to the blog, not the song.

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