Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
After seeing Springsteen and The Dirtbombs rule the stage the previous two nights, I was a little worried about how Stephen Malkmus and his Jicks were going to measure up when they showed up at the Vogue last Saturday. I was also worried about the jam-bandy sounds on his latest record, “Real Emotional Trash,” turning the show into a big, long guitar solo.
After the band kicked out a raunchy “Dragonfly Pie” to start the set, all my worries flew out the window. Yeah, it was a guitar orgy, but new drummer Janet Weiss and longtime bassist Johanna Bolme have established a tight rhythm section to anchor those solos.
This allowed Malkmus to go upon endless guitar explorations without the tunes becoming unhinged. He’s a man possessed, both when he sings and plays the guitar so that both instruments come out as one intertwined sound, and when he’s out in space pulling out star-flung licks that clatter about the audience like hits from a proton gun.
Malkmus was fun, smart-assed and brilliant. He talked some trash about the Pacers before going into the bouncy murder song “Hopscotch Willie,” a tour de force of modern day psychedelia and controlled tension that provided a late-set signal that The Jicks were just hitting their stride. Too bad only a couple songs remained, including a fantastic reading of “Baby C’mon” on which auxiliary guitarist and keyboard man Mike Clark used his keyboard to add a trippy funk undercurrent.
Being that the band easily had another good hour left in them, it really calls into question the rule that the show has to end at 10. I really don’t have a problem with the early shows and the dance club following; if the Vogue can make more money, then more power to ’em. But would it really hurt to start the dance club at 11 or midnight?