Clearly, though, the crowd was there to see Stephen Malkmus — who, like Craig Finn, has carved a nice niche for himself among mostly 30-plus dudes who adore him. Most seem to prefer Malkmus' iconic band Pavement to his solo material, which I only sort of understand. Sure, those Pavement songs are the soundtracks to many listeners’ college and young middle-age years, but a lot of Malkmus’ songs sound thisclose to Pavement songs. Anyway, Malkmus and his band, the Jicks, are a solid touring band; expectations were met. Malkmus has been called dour and bored before, but last night he was charming, joking with a crowd member: “You’re from Missouri? Oh good. You have the best fireworks,” before launching into the song “Tigers.” Or on finding out that the Outhouse, which Malkmus remembers, is now a strip club: “Well, that’s progress. American progress. I’ll check out their Facebook page.”
Malkmus never was that great of a singer (especially compared with someone like Aaron Chapman), but that’s not the point. Malkmus’ pull is about his words and his guitar, as in the song “No One”: I can bend the rules / With primitive tools and stutters / I feel right at home beside the wood shed / Give as good as I do get / And I heart the part / When you play the concerned friend. Malkmus and his band, and particularly guitarist/keyboardist Mike Clark, have a nice interplay, and the songs often descended into long, epic guitar solos. The smallish, mellow crowd ate it up and worked hard for its encore. It left me wanting some Terror Twilight, just a little bit, but on a sleepy Sunday night, it was a good way to end the weekend.