Sunday, September 12, 2010

Once You Kill Your Idols, Where Do You Bury The Body? Part 1 (of 3)

Pavement: Perfect Sound(z) Forever?

Feeling crummy and left out.

There’s a Pavement party coming and I've hesitated while reaching for my invitation.

The Internet has made deities of them. Now, my love, my true love, is reduced to just another cliché. This has happened to the band, the band, my band, the band I listened (and still, as a mean average, listen) to more than any other band, the band that got me through lonely blasé nights in Ypsilanti and ballyhooed buffoonery nights in East Lansing, the band that got me to bond with people and got me to get over heartbreak, the band that didn’t go so far as to change my life so much as they merely made the only music I could listen to for what seemed like forever and still spin it back around again.

The five musicians that made up this ever-extolled band have reunited. Just like the Pixies, Jane’s Addiction, Rage Against The Machine, Slint, Sebadoh, Guided By Voices, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and whoever else… (Read an entertaining list from Paste). Indeed, second only, perhaps, to the extremely implausible Smiths’ getting-back-together, Pavement was seen as that always-hoped-for yet barely-ever-hinted at wet dream scenario, ever since they left us lingering on at the end of the century, via a Brixton Academy show in London and their apparent swan song Terror Twilight.

Now they’re back. And…I’m worried that I’ve been slowly falling out of love with them.

I got into Pavement in the year 2000. So they’ve been dead all this while that I’ve been worshipping them, it feels very devout in a demented sort of way – the clichéd snapshot of college kid shuffling past quads in his converse with a walkman’s headphones playing all the old favorites: from Box Elder to Date with Ikea, Perfume V to Carrot Ropes

Now the ghost will have form.

The humans will be back, postulating from the alter I’ve been so dutifully dressing with odes via mix tape insertions or song quotations or album-and-EP-and re-issue purchases.

Now it gets into sacrilegious sweeps hinting at resurrection stuff – but why walk on eggshells…when that’s what this, this, this muuuuuusic can feel like to so many of us… be it from the Smiths or from the Replacements or from the fucking Eagles…or for me, from Pavement.

When you are lost in a fervor over it, when it brings you peace, when it feels like its guiding you, what is it, if not a religious experience? If the makers of that music break up and then get back together, then it’s not so terrible an embellishment to use a word like resurrection for the initial zing of hope and excitement and relief it brings to the most devoted and enamored fans. Your sonic savior is back.

Mine is back. I could go see it. Hear it. Touch it. But when I read screed after shambled blog-scrolled screed sniping and snarking on Pavement being these infallible pillars propped up by the Pitchfork music snobbery movement – then it makes the last decade of my piously poured hours of listening and pondering and reflecting and listening and discussing and sharing and listening listening listening…feel…hollow.

Like I was a plot-point, a second banana, a fall-guy. A guy who thought he got it, but is now to suffer constant reminder that he was only getting it alongside a bunch of other people who were apparently also ‘getting it’ and thus belittles you in some way…belittles your coolness maybe…because you could just as easily be a poser. Because we've decayed past a crowd of people clamoring for the Beatles and commiserating together with candles at the death of John Lennon with the shared shedding of tears; you got the feeling that they all got it. Whereas, I pause at saying, "oh, yeah, Pavement's my favorite band..." to anyone and risk them rolling eyes, "OH, great, you too, huh?"

But, what, what the hell, where did all that come from? All this that makes me feel itchy to still say out loud that, oh yes, Pavement is the one for me.

When I started getting into music it always seemed like the big ones, the big early indie 90’s ones, were the Sebadohs, the Guided By Voices, and whatever Calvin Johnston or Jim O’Rourke or Jon Spencer was doing, and of course there was Pixies worship and there was still lingering ga-ga of a post Daydream Nation world. Pavement was in there. Pavement was always in there, as an equal. But now, their name comes up, and you’d think they were the only thing going… A flash of the badge for instant cred. Something sort of close to seeing ubiquitous college kids wearing Che Guevara shirts ($14.99 on sale).

But see… that’s it… I can’t stop. I can’t let Paste or any blog stop me.

Love never dies. That very specific subtle-to-exuberant fervor you kindle for that one band.

Once you’ve seen the light, it never leaves you. I see it still in the eyes of my Pavement friends and hear the giddy crackle at the back of their throats when they talk about going to see them live.

Maybe I'm half-consoling myself because I won’t be seeing them when they play live at Chicago. Why?

I started this essay convinced that I was going to go off on a tangent about Killing your Idols… But that’s a hard thing to do. It’s cold. It cuts. It’s a resolute turning away from the warmth and nostalgia of your youth, the memories of being so moved by music. And it requires the moxy and the defiance to question your savior.

You can kill your idols in the classic sense…that being the No-Wave reaction against 70’s soft-rock, glam pop and masturbatory arena rock, cuz who was really saved by any of that?, but its harder when you can still reconcile the quality, beauty and relevancy of the music. Which, I can still do with Pavement.

But I’ll have to do it with headphones this week…

The reunion tour:




Broomfield, CO

1st Bank Center



Kansas City, MO

Uptown Theater



St. Paul, MN

Roy Wilkins Auditorium



Chicago, IL

Millenium Park



Milwaukee, WI

Pabst Theater



Columbus, OH

LV Pavillion



Philadelphia, PA

Mann Center for the Performing Arts



Boston, MA

Agganis Arena



Brooklyn, NY

Williamsburg Waterfront



New York, NY

Rumsey Playfield/Central Park



New York, NY

Rumsey Playfield/Central Park



New York, NY

Rumsey Playfield/Central Park



New York, NY

Rumsey Playfield/Central Park



Columbia, MD

Merriweather Post Pavillion - Virgin Free Fest



Atlanta, GA

The Tabernacle



Austin, TX

Stubb's Waller Creek



Los Angeles, CA

Hollywood Bowl w/No Age, Sonic Youth

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