Review and photos – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Rickshaw Theatre, April 10, 2014
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Kirk Chantraine (coming soon)
Stephen Malkmus urges Jicksters to Wig Out at Jagbags in his sixth studio release. The Vancouver crowd on Thursday night happily obliged, starting off casually bopping their heads to the nice-and-easy rock jam “Independence Street” and building up to a fist-raising, head-banging dance party for the well-loved Pavement anthem “Stereo”. Believe it or not, it’s been 15 years since Malkmus fronted Pavement – the seminal 90s band that essentially defined slacker, geek rock.
Malkmus’ work with the Jicks often reflects on the passage of time, accepting that it’s been a while since his days as the “Johnny Thunders-worshipping” skateboarding kid he describes in “Rumble at the Rainbo”. His punk colours shone through as he paid respects to the late, great Dave Gregg of Vancouver’s own D.O.A. who recently passed away. Malkmus took a moment to sing his praises and described him as “one of the nicest punk guys I ever met.”
But the night didn’t turn into a retrospective of an aging rocker or a lament about better days gone by. In fact, apart from his trademark self-deprecating quips and singing about Pictionary and Condoleeza Rice all in one breath on “Scattergories”, he massacred the balls-out guitar solos and whipped about on stage with all the youthfulness and verve from his Pavement days. I would wager that he could outrun and outjump any of the folks half his age at the show, maybe even opening band Speedy Ortiz. The only person who stood a chance keeping up was the Jicks’ drummer Jake Morris (and former member of Portland’s Joggers) who seriously channeled the all the insane vigor of Animal from the Muppets.
Bassist Joanna Bolme stood surprisingly subdued in the midst of all the action but eventually got in on the hijinks. When a fan tossed a beret to the stage, Bolme volunteered to flaunt it herself, despite the head lice and Angelina Jolie jokes that Malkmus made about her new look. Half the fun of the night was witnessing Malkmus’ razor sharp humour and quirkiness first-hand. It took a while for the snickers to die down after he pulled some fancy tricks with his microphone chord and called it the “wet noodle”. Keyboardist Mike Clark brought out the more pensive nature of the new record, accompanying Malkmus on the nostalgic number “J Smoov” and ending the ballad with a grateful low-five.
Succeeding lo-fi garage bands often allude to Pavement’s overwhelming influence, driving younger fans over to Malkmus’ second musical incarnation. It also helps when pop culture historians and music critics like Chuck Klosterman label the singer’s former group as the “Greatest. Indie-est. Band. Ever”. Malkmus’ enviable cultural cache and clever rock jams with the Jicks will undoubtedly draw a large, diverse and zealous crowd over to his shows for who knows how long.
More Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Rickshaw Theatre photos: