Ah, the curse of the opening band...
No, this quote from a Chicago concerts message board thread wasn't in response to the performance from Malkmus himself, but from the opening band, Paik. And no, this was no exaggeration. This post summed up my experience exactly. I was absolutely miserable during their set.
According to their record label's website, "PAIK are wicked conjurers of a seriously delirious thunder, unleashing a hurricane of sound that is as lilting as it is crushing."
I don't know about lifting, but their music was definitely crushing, as in totally crushing the spirit of 1000+ people who were trying to enjoy their Saturday night. I'm a big fan of experimental and instrumental music, but Paik's so-called "hurricane of sound" was nothing more than a heavily distorted wank-fest. For what felt like an eternity, the band played droned-out instrumental pieces that went absolutely nowhere. They just sounded like some really stoned guys with big amps (and not much talent) jamming in a garage.
Adding insult to injury, it was one of those nights where it was 80 degrees + humid outside, and like 90+ inside the crowded and smoky club. So not only was I beat down mentally from the pretentious prog-metal, but I was beat down physically from the extreme heat and lack of oxygen. In these situations you want to just find the nearest fire exit, bust it open and escape to fresh air. Of course, most clubs tend to frown on this kind of behavior, and Metro has that pesky "no re-entry" rule, so I had no choice but sweat this one out...literally.
Maybe Paik has a decent following among noise rock fans, but how or why they were paired up to tour with Stephen Malkmus is beyond me. I'm just not seeing any crossover between fans here at all. Perhaps they were booked as a sort of musical palate cleanser?? I mean, just about anything with a verse or hook is going to sound amazing after hearing Paik play the same droney chords for 40+ minutes. Or perhaps this was a hazing exercise to get rid of any casual fans who show up just to scream out requests for old Pavement hits like "Stereo" or "Cut Your Hair."
If this was a hazing exercise, it totally worked on me. I've always dug the occasional Pavement or Malkmus track every now and then, but I could hardly be considered a true "fan." (Hell, I don't think I've ever listened to one Pavement album in its entirety) I dig and respect Malkmus' work, but I'm not willing to endure pain and suffering to hear his slacker jams live. I stuck around for maybe 5 to 6 songs into his set, and then I just couldn't take it anymore and had to bail out. I was tired, hot and miserable. Paik and Metro's second-hand smoke sauna had beat me down and I never recovered.
By most accounts, Malkmus and the Jicks did play a good show this night, however, I'm going to have to take their word for it this time. Perhaps I'll try seeing Malkmus again if he picks up a better supporting act next time. Then again, maybe I'll just wait until the inevitable Pavement reunion...
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