Slow Century DVD
/matador; 2002/

we don't like marks but Barbara‘the boss’ H compels us to:10





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 The first disc contains a 60 minutes long documentary with numerous extras and all 13 Pavement’s videos with commentaries from the band and directors (+ 3 alternate versions). The second disc is made of two live concerts from the 1999 Terror Twilight ‘farewell’ tour (19 songs in Seattle and 7 songs in Manchester).

 The documentary relates Pavement’s history from their long-haired disturbed teen age to the ‘Cut Your Hair’ adult split up of 1999. A definitely decent decade of musical odyssey. Musical documentaries are usually overwhelmed by useless interviews but Here the director has found the right balance between footage and speech. The numerous live performances and excerpts from the band’s personal archives enhance what the band (and Thurston Moore) explains: Pavement started as an inaudible local band (which is well-Grounded when you see some old footage) and gradually evolved towards Gold Sounds and Folk Jams in Stereo. As a matter of fact, their live performances were truly approximate at the beginning, but ‘I really don’t care’. Thanks to the footage from the early years, one clearly understand why Bob Nastanovich was hired for: Gary Young (the first drummer) needed back up since he sometimes spent half of the gigs time doing a headstand (one of the best moment of the film). One learns that he unexpectedly decided to quit in Copenhagen’s airport and that he was promptly replaced by Steve West with everyone’s relief. The documentary testifies Pavement’s idiosyncratic musical identity: brilliant laid-back indie-pop (sometimes a bit noisy) played by nonchalant young men (see them playing in front of a record shop in the middle of a lazy afternoon: Zurich is Stained).

After Crooked Rain Crooked Rain’s release, Pavement was shortly considered as Nirvana’s heir because of their college radio leadership. This lead the group to play Lollapalooza, opening for Sinead O Connor, but many people did not understand the band’s state of mind at the time and they played for an hostile crowd which threw mud at them and forced them to abandon the stage. Unfair but funny (see Spiral Stairs giving the finger to the crowd). The documentary is filled with interesting anecdotes throughout a chronological narration. You can see Stephen Malkmus playing ‘Expressway to your Skull’ with Sonic Youth (Kim G and Thurston M have always praised the band) and Jesus Lizard’s David Yow shaving Steve West’s beard. It is also fun to see Pavement’s members in their early 20’s, especially Mark Ibold and S Malkmus’s mushroom haircuts. They were not Old to Begin. The documentary ends on an astonishing live trilogy from a concert in London : Stop Breathing – Conduit for Sale – Summer Babe.

 If you are not familiar with Pavement’s visual aesthetics (see the albums artwork for example), then these videos will be an opportunity for you to have some fun with some friends just like they had making them. Making videos was basically used as a pretext for fun. Indeed, none of them is really serious minded or based on a MTV screenplay style (even if Cut Your Hair video was largely played by MTV). It is quite difficult to say why this one is funny in particular, but it is absurd anyway. The basic idea is that they all go to the barbershop to have their hair cut and that the barber reveals their true self: Spiral Stairs becomes a monkey, Malkmus is the king of indie-pop, Nastanovich is a drunk, Ibold sneezes a cat out and S West becomes a frog. It’s funnier when you see it. We assure you. In Gold Soundz video, they dress up like Santa Claus and go hunting for a turkey. In Major Leagues, they go mini-golfing. In Painted Soldiers, Spiral Stairs fires every other member of the band and replaces them by Veruca Salt girls (nice Summer Babes by the way). The only time they tried to make ‘serious’ art out of a video is in Rattled by the Rush, in which you witness a tub in the process of being filled up during 4 minutes and 17 seconds. The band’s commentaries are irregularly interesting; they sometimes do not even know what to say about their misdemeanours (You’re Killing Me!). The director’s commentaries can only be considered as an extra, not so fascinating. One can notice that Malkmus keeps on going with the same slack spirit in his latest videos (see Discretion Grove).

 The good thing with the second disc is that you can switch the camera angle in order to see Bob Nastanovich’s performances in the back (I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’). During that tour, they play a lot of old songs from the first albums, all surrounded with multi-coloured strings of lights. A great version of ‘In the Mouth a Desert’ opens the first concert which presents Malkmus as the laid-back master of ceremonies of the show with him changing the lyrics of the songs or playing the solos guitar over head. ‘Date with Ikea’ is the only opportunity for Spiral Stairs to sing a song so it appears in both concerts. Mark Ibold good-naturedly caresses his Fender Bass all along the shows, acting kind of Shady, ain’t calling me baby… Steve West is Steve West just like Gary Young repeatedly was Gary Young, in a more sober way. Mr Bobby N (slacker king) sings, screams, plays keyboards and percussions and he happens to be the fifth man we all want to be during a concert (You’re Killing Me, Again!). There is a magnificent Echo and the Bunnymen cover (Killing Moon from Ocean Rain) and some new songs in those concerts (“Fin” and “Sinister Purpose”) or maybe we are not fanatic enough to know them (we seriously doubt that). In ‘Two States’, you can see Malkmus playing drums like “a debutant in a trance” while West and Nastanovich sing and mess around. The 5-hour long screening of this essential double DVD ends on ‘Summer Babe’ which is completed by a comical Cornershop cover (Brimful of Asha).

 Originally, we wanted this review to be longer but we Type Slowly and, in addition Heaven Is a Truck. Well, buy it and ask for a DVD player for Christmas. Then, you’ll be able to Range Life and settle down (except if you don’t want to) and maybe become a Father to a Sister of Thought (in the long run). However, if you feel that you are part of the We Are Underused informal movement, you should ‘get drunk in the august sun and you’re the kind of girl that I like because you’re empty and I’m empty’… To be continued…

-SEB WOOd & Angus Anderson

/nov 15th 2002/