LIVE REVIEW: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks + Speedy Ortiz @ Slim’s, SF 3/27/14
Slim’s is not an easy venue to animate. The space is like a warehouse in some ways, unfussy and much less adorned than its counterpart, the Great American Music Hall in the Polk Gulch, and as a result, many bands don’t succeed in livening it up.
Openers Speedy Ortiz were not one of those groups. The band on the ups is one step short of brazen, and two steps past giving a shit — they are hyper comfortable in being just who they are on stage. Vocalist and guitarist Sadie Dupuis seems settled into the group’s sudden success just as much as she was last July at Bottom of the Hill, when she gave their songs timely joke titles like “Royal Baby.”
Nevertheless, they were opening for Stephen Malkmus, a principal of 90s post-punk, so they showed a little austerity, all the way up to the fuzzed, undulating closer “Tiger Tank.” They were an obvious pairing with the Jicks — even Pitchfork called Dupuis’ lyrics “pure Malkmus” — and the group has grown to even more so manage the balance between aloofness and compositional precision in their performance.
Pavement’s fans are nothing if not loyal, and Malkmus’ work with the Jicks feeds into that vein. His supporters remain so arrested in their fandom. Even in “Share the Red,” (about 5 songs in or so) amongst lyrics like “You got it/The lockjaw with animus on it” late Generation X-ers are making out around me. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, so long as it takes listeners back.
Hitting tracks like the Beck-produced “Senator” (I believe) from 2011’s Mirror Traffic and last year’s “Independence Street,” The Jicks’ set went well over an hour, with Malkmus making asides to current events. Before beginning the encore, for example, he began, “This one is for the Shrimpboy” — a reference to the hyper-recent criminal activity of the Bay Area’s senator Leland Yee.
To deliver a performance catering to the longtime fans without seeming stale is commendable, especially coming from a career built on a sturdy degree of novelty. Pavement is legend, and the Jicks are much fresher—to streamline that work together seems difficult. All together though, Malkmus delivered—it was a set appeasing his marathon fans without excluding his newer ones.
Check out more photos of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks in San Francisco HERE.