Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks | Live at Melbourne Zoo

Okay, so first things first, Stephen Malkmus is a God amongst men, you know him formally as the legendary leader of 90’s alt-band Pavement, as having perfect messy hair, the right kind of plaid shirts, being a lyrical/musical genius, wearing t-shirts that say ‘F*ck Art, Lets Dance’ and writing songs that Pitchfork doesn’t hate; Gold Soundz was voted the best song of the 90’s… just sayin’.

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks is Malkmus’ solo band post Pavement  who’ve released quite a number of albums which you’ll find doing great rotations on RRR and PBS, because Triple J isn’t cool enough. Their latest offering is Wig Out at Jagbags released in January 2014, which leans more toward a 70’s guitar rock offering combined with the sharp comical wit Malkmus is revered for. They’re the kind of band that play nonchalant gangly nerd alt-rock and strangely manage to bring every thing together in a ‘I-can’t-believe-its-not-Pavement’ kind of way.

NB: Yes, I know local band The Twerps were supporting, but when it takes 2 hours to drive to the Zoo because you’re stuck in traffic and you walk in as they’re exiting the stage you die a little on the inside. I blame Drake and Punt Road for this.

Surprisingly, Malkmus walked out to a rather basic applause, instead of rapturous or a visible super excited kind of scream which was just odd. It was more of a polite I’m-having-a-picnic style of clapping which I found set a really awkward tone. The band opened with Tigers from his 2011 record Mirror Traffic, which was definitely a nice little crowd pleaser to open up with, as well as hinting to the fact that we were in a zoo, thanks.

The banter was minimal to pretty much non-existent besides referring to himself as looking like a Sydney waiter, for reasons unknown and kind of mumbling off jokes, and dare I say he didn’t do much to rouse the crowd, which I guess can be a good and bad thing, he really just came out to play his songs, which is surreal considering how many people worship him as an alternative artist.

Malkmus didn’t delay getting straight into the bulk of the set pulling out Cinnamon And Lesbians, before the super sweet Real Emotional Trash favourite Out Of Reaches which really made me want to have a slow sway of tears and feels moment with my lighter. If you haven’t heard that song I suggest you go listen to it. Malkmus might be remembered as the charismatic witty lyrical front man from Pavement but its great watching him be a lead guitarist and carry through the majority of the songs and guitar solos, especially because The Jicks, are not the most animated of bands so all the focus really is just put on him and what he’s doing with his hands and voice.

Chartjunk off of Wig Out At Jagbags was very different without the horn section in the original recording and kind of lacked energy, which was a little bit disappointing. Songs like Forever 28 suffered at such a PG gig with words like ‘shit’ being changed to ‘beep’, and lets be honest I just wanted to hear Senator (which wasn’t played) purely for the chorus which has Malkmus declaring that “All that the senator wants is a blow job…”. The little kids running around suggested that this probably wasn’t the place for those kinds of songs, which was a massive shame, as Malkmus And The Jicks are really applauded for their almost comical adult nuances showcasing the aging of Malkmus as an artist post-Pavement.

Lariat was definitely a crowd favourite off of his latest release, and maybe the most recognizable being a newer song. I guess the thing about Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, is a lack of singular knock-out songs that are generally favoured by everyone, because different songs received different cheers from the crowd and I guess meant something different to each individual who knew it.

To cap it all off, and I don’t know if the music gods were smiling down on us all but something magical happened during the encore, they played a Pavement song. That’s right, they played Summer Babe; track one off of their debut 1992 record, Slanted and Enchanted. It’s safe to say that everyone went from sitting like dignified classy adults to a complete and utter loss of shit, like zombie teenagers re-spawing out of the grave of vintage MTV. Picnic baskets, pimms cups and camembert cheese all went flying as a good portion of the crowd stood up and rushed to the front of the stage, with more than half of the crowd standing up to sing passionately along. It was such a perfect moment, but I felt so guilty for Malkmus that he’s tried so hard to evolve and change as a ‘solo’ artist but all everyone wanted to hear was a Pavement song. Maybe this was a sign for an *ahem* Pavement reunion tour. Please.

Stephen Malkmus is definitely an artist to see in your lifetime, I don’t think this was one of his best shows, but when he turns it on, he turns it on and his boyish voice and clumsy songs above love, life, loss and blow jobs can’t help but make you but fall in love with him.

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