Who are the latest darlings of the college-radio-British-press axis, you ask? Why, Pavement, of course!
The Stockton-based quintet made its L.A. debut at a sold-out show May 20 at English Acid.
Immediate darlings of the aforementioned coterie, Pavement have won the love of those esoterics partially because of their plain demeanor but mostly because they sound like a cross between two left-of-the-dial staples, the Velvet Underground and Dinosaur Jr.
Backed by two drummers–one standing, one seated–Pavement kicked off a set culled mostly from their Matador album, “Slanted and Enchanted.”
After a long, rambling intro from their seated drummer (which was mostly a plea for someone in the audience to buy him a beer–how hip!), Pavement swung into action. “Stumbled in” would have better described it, as the band took at least three songs to get started.
Part of Pavement’s appeal is their casualness, but given the generally slow, semi-introspective nature of their material, tighter pacing would give them a needed sense of drama.
That casualness may explain their allure–like so many college bands, appearing not to give a damn is an intrinsic part of their act, as if they are far too angst-ridden to succumb to the banalities of showmanship, which is a kind of showmanship in itself. But unlike Lou Reed or Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, Pavement’s lead singer projects too much, creating a rather impossible contradiction. Either you care or you don’t; either you are or you aren’t.
They do have good material, tepid as it is, and in a seated venue at an earlier hour they would go down fine. But they don’t really improve on their CD enough to merit a big live draw–at least not at this point.