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FreeFest: Pavement plays for the devotees

freefestIndie rock heroes Pavement stayed loose. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By David Malitz

"For those of you who don't know, we're an old band," Stephen Malkmus said halfway through Pavement's loose and charming evening set in the FreeFest pavilion. He said it in a deadpan, which is pretty much how he says everything, but it might have been a helpful statement nonetheless.

When the definitive indie rock band of the '90s took the stage for their lone area reunion show, they did so to gobs of empty seats in the pavilion and plenty of open space in the general admission area directly in front of the band. There was always a certain absurdity to Pavement playing a general interest mega-festival because the people who go to those festivals were always generally uninterested in Pavement. But in a weird way their set became an oddly intimate affair, as the band played for the few hundred die-hards up front who sang along to every song with energy they've been saving up for 11 years.

There were false starts and some lengthy gaps between songs but the band hit its stride early on and stayed in that comfort zone. Malkmus treated his guitar more like a toy than an instrument, flicking the strings, holding it up near his face, behind his head, strumming at the top of the neck, assured that everything would sound as it should. He dedicated a song to Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz and trash-talked the Ravens, making you think that part of the reason for this reunion was so he could make sports references in different cities.

But it was a decidedly fan friendly set. All of the obvious singles were included. "Cut Your Hair," "Gold Soundz" and "Summer Babe" became singalongs. Fan favorite "Here" was the final song, with Malkmus speaking the opening line in - what else - deadpan seriousness.

"I was dressed for success/But success it never comes."

Not exactly true, but still accurate enough.

By Click Track  | September 25, 2010; 10:07 PM ET
Categories:  Live blogging  | Tags:  Virgin Mobile FreeFest  
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Next: FreeFest: Will the real M.I.A. please show up?

Comments

Pavement was outstanding. Having gotten into the 6 years ago, this was my first and only chance to see them live. Their songs are even better live!
However, that bro from Neon Indian didn't seem to think so... He was standing in front of me during the whole show, talking to his buddy, loudly. It's bothersome enough when a normal concert-goer does this, but an artist doing this!?!? Have a little respect, Neon Indian!

Posted by: jordanlipp | September 26, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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