After years of speculation, the most important American band of the Nineties is returning to the stage with the lineup of Mark Ibold, Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West reuniting for dates around the world in 2010. Please be advised this tour is not a prelude to additional jaunts and/or a permanent reunion. Described in their own Wikipedia entry as having experienced “moderate commercial success,” Pavement’s catalog for the Matador, Domino, Drag City and Treble Kicker imprints has come to define in the eyes of many the blueprint for independent rock over the past generation. An evidentiary compilation release is planned to coincide with the touring sometime in 2010. Just announced: Pavement performs at the Mann Music Center September 17th. Tickets go on sale Friday March 12th at noon. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.com, Charge by phone 800.745.3000, TicketPhiladelphia.org, 215.893.1999 and at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts box office (no service charge).
RELATED: Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg were two of those stoned sophomores passing the peace pipe in the warm wigwam of early-’80s college radio. A photogenic pair of smart-alecky sun-kissed California boys turned indie rock hobbyists, Malkmus and Kannberg put down the soccer ball and picked up guitars, bestowing cryptic nicknames on each other — S.M. and Spiral Stairs, respectively — and trafficking in noise and ambiguity to fill the void of melody and hooks that were still some years in the offing.Recording under the nom de rock Pavement, they released a pile of spazzy, dust-bunny-on-the-needle 7-inch singles, culminating in 1992’s Slanted and Enchanted, a bewitching but ultimately confounding debut that resonated with lo-fi crackle, hiss and pretty pop, not to mention jigsaw-puzzle visions of summer babes, fruit-covered nails and Loretta’s scars.
Slanted and Enchanted made Pavement the toast of indieland, and the rock literati soon dubbed its boyish members — with their precisely wrinkled shirt tails, stoner smirks and deep-well knowledge of rock-snob ephemera — alt-rock’s most elegant and eligible bachelors.In 1994 — having switched coasts, trading suburban California sun for miles and miles of New York style — Pavement released Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, the much-anticipated sophomore LP by the underground’s then-favorite sons of the city.Shockingly tuneful and self- assured, Crooked Rain contained multitudes, alluding to the Fall and R.E.M., mining the majesty of rock and cutting it with irony, enigma and slacker ennui to create a new covenant for a Lollapalooza nation growing increasingly weary of the macho gigantism of grunge’s vein-popping flannel angst. “Songs mean a lot when songs are bought, and so are you,” Malkmus sang. All across the nation, red-eyed sophomores clustered Indian-style around the dim glow of dorm-room lava lamps, separating seeds from stems, trying to decipher Malkmus’ cryptic utterances.
Fast-forward to 2004. Pavement has long since disbanded into thirtysomething adulthood, elusive solo careers (or Korea, if you prefer) and horse-race handicapping. Matador has begun releasing 10th-anniversary bonus-track reissue editions of Pavement’s early canon. Following 2002’s Slanted reissue comes the snazzy Crooked Rain version 2.0, complete with all the attendant B-sides of the era and 25 unreleased tracks of beer-soaked basement jams, high-guy odes to Smile-era Beach Boys and the Jesus and Mary Chain, cool demo takes of Crooked tunes and embryonic versions of songs that would wow on Wowee Zowee, the album that came after. Fourteen years later not one drop of Crooked Rain’s hook-filled charm has evaporated. The elbows thrown at Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins, which raised hackles back in the day when the indie-vs.-major-labels debate had the suicidal intensity of a jihad, now seem as harmless as the Pavement boys always insisted. I mean, really: Billy Corgan? Scott Weiland? Like I could really. Give a. Fuck. “Range Life,” the rollicking country rocker from which those aforementioned elbows were thrown, emerges as Pavement’s defining moment, a reminder of a time when Malkmus’ obfuscating snark and grad-student sarcasm burned off like morning fog to reveal a shining path of sincerity. That’s foxy to me — is it foxy to you? MORE