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Sonic Boom: Ex-Magicians/Still Know The Tricks

The reunion of indie-rock gods Pavement has left Mike making obscure references and complaining


Pavement: They're foxy to Mike; are they foxy to you?

Here are some useless bits of trivia in which you have no interest:

• The name of my fantasy baseball team this year is the Linden Lions.


• The name of my fantasy baseball team last year was the Nicene Creeders.

• I used to occasionally write under the pseudonym S.M. Jenkins.

Do any of these references ring any bells with you? Probably not. In fact, I’m willing to bet a fiver you have exactly zero idea what these names mean. Am I right? I am? Great! You owe me five bucks. While I’m waiting for my payment (ahem…), I’ll explain to you from where exactly these names originate:

• “Feed ’em to the (Linden) Lions” is a song on Pavement’s 1992 EP, Watery Domestic.

• On the inside sleeve of their 1997 album, Brighten the Corners, Pavement was billed as “The Nicene Creeders.”

• On the inside sleeve of their 1995 album, Wowee Zowee, Pavement singer Stephen Malkmus (aka SM) was billed as “S.M. Jenkins.”

From this, you may derive two (or more) conclusions:

(1) I am not especially imaginative when it comes to making up nicknames.

(2) I am a self-satisfied and insufferable geek who makes obscure references to Pavement even when it is virtually certain that no one to whom these references will appear will ever actually get them.

And in both cases, you’d be dead right!

So what’s my point? Where am I going with this? Here: Two weeks ago, it was announced that indie-rock gods Pavement, who broke up in 1999, would reunite for a series of concerts to begin next September—and as a card-carrying Pavement fanboy, I feel I have license to rip the band a new a-hole for doing so. But let’s take a breath, a step back, and take this from the top.

I first heard about the reunion via a Tweet from music blog Brooklyn Vegan. At that instant, this whole thing was just a murky, unconfirmed rumor. Still, I assumed it to be fact and reacted as such, firing off a string of appropriately cynical Tweets myself.

8:01 p.m. Sept. 15 So Pavement is reuniting. Guess SM finally realized the good money isn’t in prog, but indie rock.

•  8:03 p.m. Sept. 15 IMHO this was inevitable, and maybe diminishes their legacy.

By the next day, the reunion had been confirmed by every music outlet on the planet, and I continued to treat the news with an appropriately aloof disinterest.

10:31 a.m. Sept. 17 Which media outlet will be the first to use the headline “Ex-magicians/still know the tricks”?

That’s a slight paraphrasing of a line from a Pavement song, of course: “Ex-magician/still knows the tricks,” from “Summer Babe,” off Pavement’s 1992 LP, Slanted & Enchanted. This, in my opinion, would be an enormously clever header for any story on the Pavement reunion, at least to pedantic little snots such as myself who know all these idiotic references. Anyway, immediately after the reunion news broke, tour dates were announced, beginning with a show at Central Park on Sept. 21, 2010—for which tickets went on sale LAST FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2009, at 10 a.m.

10:34 a.m. Sept. 17 Jesus, tickets are going on sale more than A YEAR in advance? Good to see Pavement haven’t gone all diva on us here.

Still, I planned to purchase tickets. Between you and me, I fully expect an earthquake to decimate much of the East Coast long before that date, but I can’t depend on that. So at 9:56 a.m., I was sitting at my computer, hitting “refresh” on the TicketMaster page…9:57…then I got called away. Something work-related, unimportant. When I got back, I pressed “refresh” again to find…tickets were sold out.

10:18 a.m. Sept. 18 The recession truly is over if Pavement can sell out Summer Stage in five minutes at 50 bucks a ticket.

I was angry. Can you blame me? How many of the people who bought tickets to that concert know as many stupid Pavement references as I do? MAYBE 50 percent, 65 tops. I was dismayed. Then, out of nowhere, a second show was announced.

10:32 a.m. Sept. 18 This feels like a demeaning compromise but I’ll live.

So, I dropped my hundred bucks—which I didn’t have—just to insure that I’d see the band. Then, as any fool could have predicted…a third show was added.

12:32 p.m. Sept. 18 Way to diminish the value of these already artificially inflated and overpriced tickets, guys!

Yes, I was enraged. But that’s to be expected, no? Are these things not outrageous? Are they not absurd?

12:34 p.m. Sept. 18 I don’t know why this is bringing out such ugliness in me. I think I have some atavistic bitterness and anger from the first breakup.

12:35 p.m. Sept. 18 It’s because I was always a Spiral Stairs fan, I think. And as such, I have a certain inferiority complex and abandonment issues.

Do you get that last reference? The Spiral Stairs one? Probably not. See, Spiral Stairs is…well, it’s kinda hard to explain. It’s an insider kinda thing. I guess you’d have to be a Pavement fan to get it.

More articles filed under Columns,Living,Music,Sonic Boom

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