September 14, 2023

Pavement played Brooklyn Steel (Night 3)

Night three of Pavement's four night run at Brooklyn Steel was a sublime medley of deep cuts and all-time classics.

In 2019, I went to Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain and as I was waiting for Lizzo to play one of the festival's smaller stages, a message flashed on the screen. It was announcing the reunion of Pavement and their headlining set at the next year's festival. While that plan got delayed until 2022, the band did reunited and embark on a global tour. This week, that tour wraps up with four shows in Brooklyn, New York and the band has pulled out all the stops for what could be their last hurrah. Catching what could be one of their last moments on stage felt special, like a full-circle moment years in the making. "Hi Brooklyn, you're like our second home. We're the Pavement band!" announced Bob Nostanovich, equal parts band member and number one fan, as the group took to the stage to mighty applause. Wowee Zowee's "Grounded" started the night off on a bit of a slower note which the band carried on for the second number, "Spit on a Stranger," easing the crowd into an evening that would see numerous fan favorites as well as some rare gems. "I'm a little hoarse tonight" Stephen Malkmus mentioned at the beginning of the night, but no one noticed or cared, the love and support was at a staggering height from the moment the group stepped on stage and continued well after they left. "Shady Lane" picked up the energy and had the crowd bopping with joy and stoned melancholy, grins reaching from ear to ear all across the crowd. In addition to the band's hits, they dug deep into their catalogue to un-Earth some rare gems like "Elevate Me Later" from the Crooked Rain Crooked Rain-, which the band hadn't played since their 2010 reunion, and the b-side "My First Mine" which got its first performance since 1990 this week and only the third time overall in the band's history. The algorithm-charged "Harness Your Hopes" proves to still entertain the crowd and bewilder the band simultaneously, but the group's been great at bringing the obscure b-side to life and making it just as much a beloved part of their set as some of the bigger numbers. "Two States" felt like the turning point of the night, the band fully warmed up and ready to cook with gas, and Bob's connection with the crowd really sparked when he took the mic and led the crowd through the chants of "we want two states!" and it only sky rocketed from that moment forward. The whooshing rush of fuzz from "Summer Babe" hit the crowd like a thick blanket, but still had everyone bouncing along to the fulfilling grooves right before the band struck into "Gold Soundz," an obvious highlight for me, and one that prolonged the total euphoria and enriching connection between the stage and the crowd. When "Stereo" came next in the set list, the crowd reached an emotional peak and as the chorus hit, everyone shouted along with endless passion, fully realizing the specialness of the moment and being part of the experience that is to witness a legendary band bringing their legacy to a close. Things took a psychedelic twist for the back-half of the night with the band's drawn out guitar solos and on-stage banter both adding to the mix and drawing attention in so many ways. Bob's relentless interactions with the crowd didn't always seem to jive with Malkmus and at one point when Stephen asked Spiral Stairs about his guitar, Spiral replied that he bought it for $600 in 1997 and then asked if anyone in the crowd wanted to buy it since these were the band's last shows and they needed to unload their stuff. If this is the end of the band's second come-back, then it's a real treat to see them go out in such a blaze of glory, playing wildly varied sets with lots of rarities while they still seem to be having fun. When the band came back onstage for the encore, they stuck straight to the crowd pleasers and banged out an impressive "Loretta's Scars," which had only been back in the mix as of this week for the first time since their last reunion over a decade prior. Malkus regarded it as making him feel like a member of a male-heavy Breeders, a band that was a better version of the Pixies with this being one of Pavement's better than average Pixies' song. "Cut Your Hair" gave the crowd one more chance to rock out to an epic solo before it all came to a close with "Range Life," the song that perhaps got the best shoutouts from the crowd, ending the night on a killer combo of some of the band's absolute best tunes. If this is indeed the end of Pavement (again), then it's great to see them pull out all of the stops and give the fans something they have longed for for decades. To see them do it while still seeming to be excited and in good spirits is a strong enough memory to last forever.

Set list:

01 "Grounded"
02 "Spit on a Stranger"
03 "Shady Lane"
04 "The Hexx"
05 "Elevate Me Later"
06 "Harness Your Hopes"
07 "Unfair"
08 "My First Mine"
09 "Two States"
10 "Summer Babe"
11 "Fame Throwa"
12 "Gold Soundz"
13 "Stereo"
14 "Kennel District"
15 "Type Slowly"
16 "Home"
17 "We Dance"
18 "Blue Hawaiian"
19 "Serpentine Pad"
20 "Motion Suggests"
21 "Embassy Row"
22 "Stop Breathin"
23 "Loretta's Scars"
24 "Cut Your Hair"
25 "Range Life"

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