Ask me what I think of Pavement, and I'll tell you it's good when it's not full of holes. Cheeky bit of clever-clever there, but then, what more could you expect when talking about the seminal '90s indie band whose stock and trade was clever cheek? In all honesty, I was always a cursory fan. Cut Your Hair, Shady Lane, Stereo--Pavement made some good tunes. But I never owned an album, only ever saw one show, couldn't tell you anybody's name except for the dreamboat at the microphone.

That would be Stephen Malkmus, the one now going it alone with a solo record on Matador (titled, cleverly and cheekily, Stephen Malkmus), who just last week played a shhhh! secret gig at The Medicine Hat to rev up for a UK tour.

So, I take a fresh approach to his fresh approach, a clean slate for the new direction.

Only at first, it seems like maybe Malkmus hasn't actually started anew. As the set begins, it could be just another Pavement-inspired band churning out homage after homage in a bar somewhere. I suppose you could chalk it up to bad sound (the record isn't nearly as muddy as the performance was), but that doesn't change the nature of the songs themselves. It's a tired, boring formula. Malkmus' lazy singing, the predictable riffs, the too-cool-for-school distance--Malkmus seems as far away from his songs as I am from him, like this is just something he tosses off, it's not supposed to mean anything.

Then it stops being boring and gets outright bad. At some point, Malkmus decided he liked ELP and starts slapping us with complicated chord changes and convoluted structures. I can't make out the lyrics, but I have visions of goblin hordes charging across a fjord to slaughter good taste.

My mind finally snaps completely shut during the closing jam and its invocations of Humble Pie. Thankfully, we're spared an encore, and, really, there's not much demand for it. The indiots (you know, Pavement's progeny, the indie music fans with the tragic haircuts and unfortunate stocking caps) are barely applauding, much less stamping their feet or cheering--a sad showing for a man once so revered. Could it be they see through the fakery and casual contempt?

Nahhhh. They probably just didn't want to break their poses by showing they cared. Just the way His Lordship taught them.