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Live Review: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, The Ocean Party

7 March 2015 | 11:38 am | Holly Keys

It would be easy for the ex-Pavement frontman to ride on the coattails of nostalgia, but he and his co-players in The Jicks made sure their performance was well and truly their own

Wagga Wagga band The Ocean Party opened the night, squashing their six members onto The Toff’s small stage. They sang simple but honest indie-rock and, despite the crowd being small, are working everyone in the room. During the interlude between sets, the crowd grew, taking shape as a mix of twentysomethings and silver-haired Pavement fans.

And, then, out came Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks.

Before jumping into a song, Malkmus bantered with the crowd in the chilled-out, sarcastic tone for which he is famous. He complained that he tried to get directions to the Melbourne Museum from a cop who didn’t know where it was, before saying he thinks Peter Garrett is cool.

The band then blasted into Baby C’mon and the previously relaxed crowd started to move. The band was energetic and their live sound is much dirtier than the records, once again proving the idea that rock music is always better live.

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After a bit of soundcheck due to mic troubles, the band played a couple of tracks from their latest LP, Wig Out at Jagbags. The crowd got particularly boppy during Cinnamon and Lesbians – a song about a jar of cinnamon sticks and a lesbian couple. Malkmus sang that he’s been tripping his face off since breakfast. The Jicks' sound tapped into the '90s slacker feel that made their frontman famous whilst at no point falling into the trap of shallow nostalgia.

Malkmus then engaged in a little more banter with the crowd; conversational and taking questions. He told the audience that America sucks, unless you want to make it, whilst bassist Joanne Bolm played AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way To The Top. The cheerful cynicism of Malkmus’ lyrics oozed out in his stage presence. For such a legend, he had a chilled-out and approachable vibe.

The band then jumped into Asking Price, during which drummer Jake Morris killed it with a short but impressive solo. The band then got heavier with the distorted guitar of Shibboleth. During Freeze The Saints, Malkmus got the crowd clapping before joining Mike Clark on the keys. The Jicks clearly love what they do, a feeling that then translated to the crowd.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks finished their set with an abrasive wall of sound before coming back for a three-song encore that featured Pavement classic Stereo.

A person in the crowd shouted out that the band should do a 10-song encore, to a smile from Malkmus, but was left instead only with the stunning memories that were created over the course of the evening's events.