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Stephen Malkmus Doesn’t Disappoint

Pavement may have split up in the late 90s, but that didn’t stop their guitarist/front man/mastermind, Stephen Malkmus, from dominating his set with their iconic melodies. Malkmus strummed along to a sold-out crowd at The Great American Music Hall last night and even among the many mishaps and awkward in-between banter, it may single-handedly be one of the best shows we’ve ever seen.

Malkmus’ show was billed with three openers (which, if not paired correctly, can be tedious and cause the audience to lose interest altogether – this show, not the case). Expecting some regular old Joe-blow with a guitar, we were pleasantly surprised when SF-native Goh Nakamura took charge of the stage with his gentle voice, witty lyrics and tributes to the evil Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT). Next up, alt-country heroine Peggy Honeywell got the crowd revved up with her soulful forlorn love tunes. The last opener Kelley Stoltz's accomplished reputation shone through as half the crowd decidedly sang along with his well-stacked set list.

But the real party didn’t even begin until Mr. Malkmus himself took the stage. From the moment he ran on, dedicated fans were screaming for their favorite songs to which Malkmus gently replied, “No, I don’t even know that song anymore, I’m just gonna play what I planned.” Clearly nervous, often forgetting some of the words to his songs, he even broke a string while playing to which he boasted his skills at replacing strings while talking. With his nerves obviously in effect, Malkmus accidentally put an A string on his D string. Needless to say, the techs backstage came to his rescue with a brand new re-stringed acoustic, which he then attributed the mix-up to nerves and his admitted over-indulgence backstage of a particular sticky green substance. Despite the rusty mistakes made, the crowd giggled and squealed over any witty banter he would provide.

All Pavement-nostalgia aside, watching Stephen Malkmus solo was like hanging out with your best friend (if your best friend was an iconic singer/songwriter, of course) in his living room, he even offered a thirsty front-row fan his beer at one point. The set was cozy and somewhat improvised. Overall, it was just plain entertaining. Not meant to be serious and definitely not sweating the small mistakes made (which he overtly wore as a distinct grimace on his face), Malkmus’ hilarious encore alone was worth watching. It included a soul medley and a memorable rendition of Love Train by the O’Jays and some Prince thrown in there just for fun. Stephen Malkmus’ show last night was extremely honest, modest and unassuming in a way that shows are supposed to make you feel. It’s a rare sentiment that not every artist can capture and we may be drinking Coronas for a while in his reverence.

We’re looking forward to a complete change of pace seeing Goblin Cock tonight at The Rickshaw Stop, but we’re not sure if this can be topped. See you tonight.