GUEST POST: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at the Jefferson [9/30/11]

Courtney’s note: Although I was excited to go to the show last night [I mean, who doesn’t enjoy Pavement?] I felt ill-equipped to write this review because of my lack of familiarity with Malkmus’ new record. Thankfully, Shaun agreed to write a guest post today and let you know all about the concert! Enjoy…

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks at the Jefferson

For the uninitiated, Stephen Malkmus was one of the primary forces behind Pavement. If that still doesn’t mean anything to you, think of Pavement as proto-indie. Pavement is your favorite indie band’s favorite indie band, and for good reason. With five records on Matador from 92 to 99 (three of which are generally regarded as classics), Robert Christgau was probably right to call Pavement “the finest rock band of the 90s.”* Unfortunately (although, definitely intentionally), their lone brush with mainstream success was “Cut Your Hair” off 94’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Since then, Malkmus has worked on various side projects, but most of his post-Pavement efforts have been channeled through Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. His stop in Charlottesville was part of a promotional tour for the band’s fifth (and perhaps best) album: Mirror Traffic.

Malkmus at left.

Malkmus is no stranger to Charlottesville, though. A graduate of The University, he usually ensures that his tours stop here. And who can blame him? Sharing The Grounds with David Berman (Silver Jews), James McNew (Yo La Tengo), and Bob Nastanovich (Silver Jews, Pavement) must have been a recipe for musical nostalgia. [Does this mean this post will be bookmarked on the “Recipes” page?] All four were DJs at WTJU in the late 80s, which probably means you had an 87% chance of hearing The Fall, Slint, or Sonic Youth anytime you tuned in to 91.1fm at the time. Decide for yourself whether you think this means it was a high water mark for Charlottesville radio. My vote is: YES.

And if you were there last night, it’s hard to see how you could disagree. Sure, Malkmus’s best days might be behind him and The Jicks may have lost former Sleater-Kinney drummer to Wild Flag. Still, Malkmus was having a blast (perhaps even more than when with Pavement) and The Jicks were more than capable. More than that, any fan of 90s indie rock (or even 00s indie rock influenced by 90s indie rock–i.e., all of it) would be hard-pressed to not like the new record, which dominated last night’s set. With Beck producing, the songs are not too unfamiliar and often enjoyable. They tap in to a sound reminiscent for most of Generation X’s culturally aware, but are particularly charming for those who don’t reminisce too long. Malkmus is not Pavement. He seems happy with adulthood, and despite a slight shot at Dave Matthews**, seems to have grown out of his punk rock phase. Now, Malkmus is a husband, father, and resident of Portlandia (where young people go to retire) who sometimes makes excellent rock and roll music. For those of us in or nearing that demographic, Malkmus is still an icon. Proof that cool doesn’t fade.

* While nearly everyone writing on Malkmus or Pavement quotes Christgau, no one links to the article. My (charitable) guess is that the Village Voice hasn’t uploaded it to the interwebs, though it’s just as likely that rock critics have more important things to do than be decent journalists.

** Who can resist a DMB poop joke, even 7 years later?


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Categories: Music


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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One Comment on “GUEST POST: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at the Jefferson [9/30/11]”

  1. Jack
    October 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    And a special guest appearance by Pavement drummer Steve West (on shaker) during a Doors>Grateful Dead cover to close out the main set.

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