A solo Stephen Malkmus gig highly struck a chord with grunge music enthusiasts, as well those more partial to an electronic beat, as Pavement’s front man performed to packed out CCA. After the release of Groove Denied in May, earlier in the year, via Domino Records, Malkmus has toured Europe and the UK, and really shaken up what his fans expect from him. However, it is not just a plunge into the new record that we are indulged with at this gig, the set list contains many Pavement favourites and Malkmus staples that bears witness to the audience heckling and cheering on. There is no shortage of offkey melodies and sonic textures.
The first taste of Stephen’s new groove took the form of lead single Viktor Borgia, and its accompanying video starring Stephen alone in a dance club, which challenges a lot of populist conceptions. No change there then. Also interesting to note that this is Malkmus’ first solo album without his cohorts The Jicks since 2001. And it certainly has flavours of his time out in Berlin, as we hear the influences of Wolfgang Flur and the likes of Kraftwerk, interjected in his skew and obtuse sounds.
The gig kicked off with Martin Frawley (Twerps) with “Stuart on keys,” deceptively alluring the audience in for the folk sounds of Jeffery Lewis, Fairport Convention and, Simon and Garfunkel. With Bobby Gillespie-styled vocals set to guitar and keys, I was somewhat impressed by the performance-driven Aussie, Martin Frawley.
Stephen’s headline set expansively kicked off with his time in Pavement and spanned his credible career, with this Jicks and also solo. With rumours brewing that Pavement will be reforming for various festivals next year, it was of no surprise to hear him perform tracks such as Black Out. And with the new release, it was of no surprise to hear glitch and electronic sonics, which threw the crowd into a Malkmus frenzy. Viktor Borgia was a key highlight, an indulging surprise for this lover of suynthesized beats, and awry lyrics.