01 April 2008

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks @ Bowery Ballroom - 31 March 2008

In "Out of Reaches" - a semi slow-jam from Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks' latest album Real Emotional Trash - Malkmus coos repeatedly of "gale force intimacy"; a characteristically obtuse sentiment that aptly summarized the first of his three sold-out New York shows last night.

Trading in the slightly larger digs of the Fillmore at Irving (where he's played the last few times here in NYC) for the (relatively) cozier surroundings of Bowery Ballroom, the eternally laid-back Malkmus shambled his way through a nearly two-hour set so loose and carefree it felt as though the crowd was watching a late-night jam at his Portland practice space. And in no way is this meant as a slight.

It was a refreshing and honest performance by an artist so confident in his (and his band's) abilities that he almost seemed to relish the challenge of rocking out with as little forethought and self-restraint as possible. The crowd responded in kind and reached a level of perceived intimacy in many ways: via his knowing smirk as he slightly botched a guitar line, through the meandering ins and outs of the epic song constructions that define the new album, and in the false starts and stops that marked the beginning of several tunes but somehow only added to their overall charm.

Intimacy. Also brought to the Bowery in a gale force fury courtesy of Janet Weiss, former drummer for Sleater-Kinney and the latest full-time addition to the Jicks. Her potent combination of deadly precision and intuitive feel for Malkmus' idiosyncrasies has been a priceless addition to the band, adding snarling new muscle to their improvisatory jams - "Real Emotional Trash" was particularly awe-inspring - while stoically anchoring the more traditional grooves - as in the punishing, no-frills attack throughout the encore-closing "Dark Wave".

Last night, sloppy and spirited merged with the precise and possessed; it was an inspiring collision. Lots more pics after the jump...












*photos courtesy of Jonathan for EF

Listen:
"Baltimore"
"Real Emotional Trash"

See more pictures from this show HERE

See Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Live:
01 April New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
02 April Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg
03 April Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
04 April North Adams, MA @ Contemporary Artists Center
20 April Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
21 April Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
23 April Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
24 April Tucson, AZ @ Plush
26 April Indio, CA @ Coachella (Empire Polo Field)
27 April San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
28 April Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's Night Club
30 April Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall
01 May Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
02 May Victoria, BC @ Sugar Nightclub
03 May Vancouver, BC @ Richard's On Richards Cabaret
25 May Quincy, WA @ Gorge Amphitheatre
05 June London, UK @ Shepherds Bush Empire
07 June Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy
08 June Glasgow, UK @ Oran Mor
09 June Dublin, IRE @ Tripod

Visit Stephen Malkmus on MySpace.

5 comments:

Julio said...

you put your finger on it. It totally felt like we were witnessing a SM&J practice. Sloppy, cool, and fun. But my favorite part of the show was when they were having sound propblems and the bassist kept motioning to her butt as if to say "More bottom!"

Anonymous said...

Yeah - what was up with the bassist and her motions? Anyway, great article ... I particulary enjoyed Malkmus's hand actions whilst singing the Oyster song.

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