Pavement’s history of decade-long gaps between touring would make the band’s current run of 47 US and Euro dates over a two month stretch a last-chance possibility (even probability) for fans like me. 

I saw their Kansas City show at the Uptown in late September and then last night – at the Grand Rex here in Paris.  Both shows were great.  The sound was better in KC.  So was the vast space for general admission standees.  

But to see Pavement in Paris was a thrill.  I walked in with French friends off the busy Boulevard Poissonnière into the majestic movie theater just a few minutes before the band went on.

The crowd went nuts when they played Shady Lane late in the main set.  Frontman Steve Malkmus garnered amusement from his bandmates on several occasions when he modified slightly an intro – or an outro.  The band’s form and confidence is top level, likely benefitting from the accumulation of workouts these songs are getting.  Harness your Hopes is on the setlist for every show but there’s been great variety on this tour.  

A guitar tech handed Malkmus a newly-tuned instrument between each song. There was about a fifteen or twenty foot gap on the main floor between the first row of seats and a stage barrier.  That’s where people stood.  Those with seats on the main floor stood too.  And there was an unregulated clogging of the aisle by standees who wanted to improve their view.  Mostly an older crowd.  Guys my age. Or in their 40’s.  

An intoxicated woman jumped on stage during Spit on a Stranger and seemed unsure what to do with the attention she was generating.  The band ignored her, even when she advanced into Steve’s sphere.  She briefly played air guitar.  After more than 60 seconds of awkward and somewhat annoying uncertainty how her stunt would end, she grabbed one of Westie’s drum mikes to sing along, prompting security to gently apprehend her for reintroduction to her designated space in the audience.  

Even with the mapping app, I kinda got lost on the way home.  I passed on the group’s post-gig drink meetup to ensure I made the last Metro back to the hotel.  The trains clicked.  But my room is off this roundabout with no grid system in the area – and for me, a total lack of familiarity and directional orientation.  So, I walked for a half-hour searching for my hotel when it should have taken five minutes.  That’s Ok.  I don’t like being lost in the moment, but I do occasionally like being lost as a funny travel memory. 

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