September 26th, 2011 1:00am

Words Are Such Bitter Friends

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks @ Webster Hall 9/25/2011

Baby C’mon / Spazz / Brain Gallop / Long Hard Book / Tigers / Pennywhistle Thunder / Forever 28 / Independence Street / Polvo / Share the Red / Animal Midnight / Tune Grief / Gorgeous Georgie / Senator / Asking Price / Stick Figures in Love // Planetary Motion / No One Is (As I Are Be) / You Love Gets Me High / 1% of One

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks “Brain Gallop”

1. Following the Pavement reunion tour, Malkmus has returned to the left side of the stage after years of performing in the center with the Jicks. I appreciate this: It suits his personality and emphasizes that despite the “Stephen Malkmus and” commercial consideration, the Jicks are a real band, and one that has existed for a decade now.

2. This was my first exposure to Jake Morris, the Jicks’ new drummer. He’s certainly not in the same class as his predecessors John Moen and Janet Weiss – he simply lacks the former’s raw skill or the latter’s heavy-hitting power – but he’s good with accents and loose grooves. He’s sort of like a tighter version of Steve West, and that brings the sound a bit closer to Pavement. “Brain Gallop,” for example, is the most traditionally Jicks-y song on Mirror Traffic with Weiss on drums, but this performance was much more Brighten the Corners in tone.

3. The new songs are terrific live. As much as I love Real Emotional Trash, some of those songs could drag on a bit in concert. In contrast, this material is very brisk and snappy, with more rocking stuff like “Tune Grief,” “Senator,” “Forever 28,” “Spazz” and “Stick Figures in Love” coming off particularly well. The pacing of the setlist was sorta weird though, with a good chunk of time in the middle given to new material and mid-tempo tunes. If you’re going to have a potentially dull spot, that’s not the worst place to put it, but you could tell how relieved the audience was to hear a fast song when “Tune Grief” came around.

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