Stephen Malkmus shreds Slim’s


Photos by Patrick Kelly // Written by Steven Wandrey

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks with Speedy Ortiz //
Slim’s — San Francisco
Thursday March 27th, 2014 //

The sold-out crowd at Slim’s filled in early as many were interested in catching the opener, Speedy Ortiz. Those present weren’t disappointed with the hard-edged 90s-reminiscent indie rock, though this was in no way a nostalgia act. Fronted by frighteningly powerful female vocals from Sadie Dupuis, it’ll be exciting to see how this band develops. After only one full length, 2013’s highly acclaimed Major Arcana, the potential with this group is through the roof. Speedy Ortiz is a great fit as opener for Malkmus & The Jicks; the opener displays the grungier side of Pavement that Malkmus has left behind in favor of a cleaner, fuller sound.


That’s not to say that Malkmus is shooting for a mark and missing it. Malkmus is firmly in control of this group, heading in a tighter and more focused direction than his previous work. Malkmus exhibits tasteful restraint with ripping guitar solos in small spots. Still chock-full of dry humor and ivy-league stoner sarcasm, Malkmus surprisingly kept his between-song commentary to only a few sentences. The glib and overly witty lyrics parallel the music in that they’re both quick and jaunty, feigning heaviness, though usually lighthearted. The show quickly took off, opening with “Cinnamon and Lesbians” off of his newest LP, Wig Out At Jagbags. The night would feature almost the entire new album, with the lone Pavement cover coming in the encore slot (an amped up “Stereo” singalong).


The four piece is firing hot on all cylinders, sounding tight, focused and energized. Sometimes the second guitar player would move over to the keys, further fleshing out the band. One highlight was a spirited rendition of “Houston Hades” off the new album. The crowd was soothed and then brought to its boiling point as the band repeatedly belted out the song’s driving ending. In general, the attendees were subdued, perhaps reliving their 90s stoner history with more than just memories. However, they were also highly attentive; there weren’t many talkers and not a single person was seen walking out the door before the encore began. It’s refreshing to see someone with Malkmus’ pedigree refusing to rest on his laurels and continuously pushing himself to create modern, relevant rock. Here’s to hoping he and The Jicks continue to push themselves in new and interesting directions.







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