CONTEST: Win Tix To See Pavement At The Mann

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to Vince Pennline who was the first to email us with the correct answer to our question about what happened to ‘the second drummer’ — he drowned, of course, as per the lyrics of “Cut Your Hair.”  Thanks to all for playing, and stay tuned for more groovy concert ticket giveaways on a Phawker near you.

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.They play the Mann Center on Friday and we have a pair of tickets to give away. The first person to email us at FEED@PHAWKER.COM with the correct answer to the following Pavement trivia question wins: What happened to ‘the second drummer’? Please include a cellphone number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed.

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 butcrookedrain_1.jpg 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



BY JONATHAN VALANIA Being Stephen Malkmus is … easy. You’re born upper-middle class in Los Angeles, the son of a general property/casualty insurance agent. You live on Citrus Avenue in the City Of Angels, where the sun shines all the time. When you’re eight, you move upstate to the tony suburban subdivisions of Stockton, where you’ll live out your formative years. You meet this kid named Scott Kannberg on your soccer team. You play wing. You learn to play guitar by aping Jimi Hendrix on “Purple Haze,” which features this tricky E chord. When you finally pull it off, you realize you can now play the guitar. You spend your puberty at all-ages punk shows. You even start a punk-rock band called the Straw Dogs, which sounds like a cross between the Adolescents, Wasted Youth and Dead Kennedys, as was the style at the time.

At age 18, you depart cross-country for the University of Virginia, because it’s the best school that accepted you and, besides, your old man went there. You have the distinct feeling you were one of the last students accepted because you’re assigned a room in the basement of the freshman dormitory, which you call a “ghetto for all the dumb kids.” You don’t complain, because even though you fill out the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink, you don’t test well and you only scored 1180 on your SATs. After a couple of years, you declare a major in history because you get the best grades in those classes._You meet David Berman, who will one day be regarded as one of the finest poets of your generation. You will one day make albums with him under the name Silver Jews. (You aren’t Jewish.) You will also meet a super-nice guy named Bob Nastanovich, who will one day talk you into co-owning a racehorse named Speedy Service with him. Who knows, you might even ask him to join your next band if you ever get around to starting one. The three of you become DJs at the college station and sit around drinking beer while raiding the deepest depths of the record stacks: Can, Chrome, Swell Maps, the Fall. These records will serve you well in due time. So well, in fact, that the Fall’s Mark E. Smith will one day curse you in the pages of Q magazine for riding his style to the bank. If someone told you this back in college, you would’ve never believed it.

You record an album under the band name Lakespeed, which even you have to admit sounds a little too derivative of Sonic Youth and the other college-radio superstars of the time. You send it around, but no label is interested. After graduating with a respectable 3.2 grade-point average and not even a vague clue as to what you want to do with your life, you go back to Stockton. You team up with Kannberg, because he’s the only one of your acquaintances who still lives there. He’s learned to play guitar. You make up aliases for each other: You call him Spiral Stairs, he calls you S.M. You record some songs for a seven-inch single you purposely try to make sound really bad, like Television Personalities or Chrome or Pere Ubu. Later, people will call this “lo-fi.” On the day you record, you’ll learn later, a grisly mass murder happens downstate, which is odd because you’ve already decided to call the seven-inch Slay Tracks.

You leave all the pedestrian details of pressing the singles and mailing them out to zines and record labels to Kannberg—who decides to call the project Pavement—and head out on a year-long backpacking trip across Europe. You’ll also visit Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, where you’ll hike out to the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which, in the Bible, is called Eden. When you get back, you’re amused to learn Slay Tracks has been well-received. You record another single called Demolition Plot J-7 and follow it up with a 10-inch called, rather archly, Perfect Sound Forever. The buzz builds. You move to New York to live with good ol’ Nastanovich. You and Berman get jobs as security guards at the Whitney Museum Of American Art, and to fill the endless ennui of standing for hours babysitting some of the greatest artistic achievements of Western culture, you make up an album’s worth of songs in your head. Spending Christmas back in Stockton with your family, you record these songs. You call it Slanted And Enchanted. It will change music. It will change people’s lives. It will change your life. You’ll become the slacker prince of indie rock and, as befits the title, you’ll never have to work another day in your life. MORE

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