Sunday, March 2, 2014

Got to ball and have a good time: Chooglin' Edition Or, My Week of Malkmus

Start this shit right with "General Admission", by Endless Boogie.

When Stephen Malkmus and whichever band he's out on tour with (Pavement or the Jicks) comes to my town I step out. I'm pretty sure I started my quick ejection from the publishing industry by showing up to work bleary eyed from seeing Malkmus in Philadelphia on the 2003 Pig Lib tour. Whatever. This isn't about reality.

Despite having greater responsibilities these days I still make it my business to see Malkmus as often as I can. I have a problem-it's called fandom and any objectivity goes out the window. Is it weird? Lame? Obviously I don't care. I'm the woman whoo-hooing in the audience. I'm the one who knows which songs on the bootleg have and haven't been officially released. I'm the one keeping tally of which covers they do. I'm in this for real.

Anyway, Malkmus week started this Wednesday. In addition to J, I saw three friends I mainly know because of Malkmus and or the Silver Jews. There were mic problems which detracted from the overall quality of this show but I knew I had two more to go so this was a nice warmup. We sat with my friend K and we talked about seeing the 1st Malkmus solo show in 2000 at the Bowery where Heather Larimer screamed directly into the mic and hurt everyone's ears. My friend suggested she was playing the Bob Nastanovich role, and from that I free associated Bob Cosplay. (This is the same friend who inspired me to come up with the name of our short lived band, Sac Master.) I will take credit for inventing Bob Cosplay but I can't lay out the rules for you. That's something I'll leave to your imagination.

Highlights for me: Malkmus's goofiness. They opened with a favorite of mine from Wigout at Jagbags, "Chartjunk". He said "You don't need alcohol in NYC." A drug reference? They played a new song, "Kite in a Closet". "Father to the Sister of Thought" the Pavement cover of the night. "Baby Come On" was a crowd rouser. "Out of Reaches" was dedicated to Ben and Dan (NYC Taper guys?).

The next night I was better rested and I was ready. We were joined by our friend S. He invited J to see George Straight on Saturday but J declined. I suggested he take my parents since my mom's a big George Straight fan. I had plans--more Malkmus.

Thursday was hands down the best night of the three that I saw. I'm crossing my fingers that the NYC Taper guys got it on tape because this one is worth listening to again.

But let's back up to Endless Boogie. I'd first seen them open for Malkmus back in 2002 at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. At that time I didn't get them. Mainly because I wasn't much of a Stones fan then. I wasn't into the Boogie. The most memorable thing about those times I saw Endless Boogie was this song they did with the chorus "Mighty fine pie." Some friends of mine and I latched onto that line and when we saw them open for Malkmus a few times we shouted it out at the Boogie and they seemed  a bit confused, like they didn't expect to have any fans, or anti-fans.

Fast forward 11 years. Endless Boogie is back and I get it. To quote myself, "I finally get Endless Boogie. They're like if the Stones never found charismatic Jagger and really just wanted to cover Can's "Mother Sky"."

They completely won me over with this move: They announced that they didn't write their next song, but they were going to destroy it. They begin and after a while I realize that it's a Stephen Malkmus song that I've only ever heard on bootlegs circa 2003, Pig Lib tour. In fact, I stood in the front row of the Malkmus show at Prospect Park in the pouring rain yelling for this particular unreleased song (well, that and "Old Jerry"). I've seen the song in question labeled "Grab it and Gone" or "Gravity Bong". It's got a good shuffling beat, and Endless Boogie were doing it justice. I was psyched! Then to make it even better they joked at the end that Stephen Malkmus had recorded it in 1962 and I shouted "I HAVE THAT BOOTLEG". A guy in the audience asked me whose song it was and I said, "Malkmus wrote that." Then Endless Boogie continued to do what they do best: Boogie.

The crowd was much more in tune with the band on this night and that probably fueled the Jicks to glory. Highlights for me were "Asking Price" followed by "Stick Figures in Love", probably my favorite song on Mirror Traffic. I've enjoyed Malkmus' forays into crooner mode with "J Smoov" and "Houston Hades"--he hams it up a bit, and sometimes drops his guitar. They pulled out "Church on White", the song written in memory of the late Robert Bingham. (The Silver Jews has their own tribute: "Death of an Heir of Sorrows") Then they ended the set with "Forever 28", an upbeat number. They came back with an extra long encore of: "Outdoor Miner", a Wire cover (I couldn't ask for a better cover--I loved it), then dedicated Pavement's "Stereo" to Mark Ibold (I saw him in the audience watching the entire show) and before they followed that with "Harness Your Hopes", a beloved Pavement b-side, Mike Clark said, "This feels sacrilegious, like entering the temple." THEN, as if that weren't enough, as if they crowd hadn't already gone nuts and shouted all the choruses and sung along to the songs, they ended with a deconstructed version of "Wild Thing", Cat Power style (in the vein of her "Satisfaction" cover), performing the song but opting not to sing the chorus. It was amazing. I left with a grin on my face. An actual grin.

I had a day to catch my breath (not to mention the pain of showing up for an 8 am work meeting) before I made a quick jaunt to Philly.

I met up with my friend JT and we spent the day reminiscing and looking at our adult selves with equal parts wonder, shock, and bemusement. He's got a kid now!

The TLA sucks--sloped floor, advertisements for Midget Wrestling, etc. We overheard Malkmus usher a fan into the club and the poor guy said "I love you. I really love you." to Malkmus. I said to my friend, "There's nothing you can do with that when a fan says that to you. All you can do is say thanks and maybe take a step back." I also said that I only say that kind of stuff in my dreams.

Endless Boogie came out with Mike Clark and they did an art rock version of their usual and Jesper said, "What, are we art rock now? I thought we had a good thing going." Malkmus was head bopping along from the wings.

Our friend texted if we were ready to choogle. He'd already seen Malkmus the night before in DC.

At some point I got a cramp in my foot so I left the front section to get water and couldn't fight my way back to my friend. I ended up behind a wall of a man and his friend was extremely drunk and possibly high. He kept whoo-hooing for entire songs. I mean, a whoo-hoo it like a crash on the drums, it's meant to punctuate a particular moment in a song. When I whoo-hoo it's usually at the start of a particularly tasty lick, or at the end of a song. It's a whoo-hoo of appreciation, but this guy just appreciated everything to excess, to the point where I could barely hear the songs over his whoo-hooing. So I walked over to the stairs leading to the VIP section and asked a guy if I could go up, and he said sure. I went up, ducked under a rope and sat myself down and suddenly had an amazing view. I had a seat, but enough room to choogle if I so chose to. It was, as they say, AWESOME.

Malkmus dropped his guitar during his croon session with "Houston Hades". At some point, I don't remember when, but Malkmus looked at the setlist, said BOB, got confused, and then did a spot on impression of Bob Nastanovich lunging into one of his trademark screams for songs like "Conduit for Sale", etc. For the encore they came out and Malkmus said "Welcome back to me. Welcome back to us." Joanna Bolme, the bassist joked "Welcome back to Me" is the next album title. Jesper from Endless Boogie came out to play "Born on the Bayou" (Creedence) with the band, and then they did "Summer Babe" and it was, as my friend said, cathartic. Malkmus surprised the band by making them huddle and he quickly taught them another song and they ended the night with an impromptu 1 minute or so punk cover.

Tonight is the Oscar's but I'm a little sad that my week of Malkmus is over, so I found this hour long youtube video of a Malkmus concert in France. Check it out. At the 57 minute mark or so they go from "Us" into the chorus of "Age of Consent" by New Order. That is hands down my favorite New Order song. Then Malkmus briefly plays the riff from "Mother Sky" by Can! Then they bring it back to "Us" and Malkmus even throws in a faux French accent for one of the lines.

2014 is the 20th anniversary of the release of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and that means that I've seen at least one date on every single tour Stephen Malkmus has done since then, starting with my first Pavement show October 15th 1994 at the Roseland Ballroom (I was 16). They're shutting that place down soon. The wrecking ball comes for all of us someday, but just not yet. Not yet.