Certain Songs #1497: Pavement – “Starlings of the Slipstream”

Album: Brighten The Corners
Year: 1997

Darlings on the split screen

We’ve already discussed the circumstances under which I didn’t get to see Pavement play Lollapalooza in 1994 — Billy Corgan backlash for “Range Life” — but during that post I neglected to mention that I also somehow totally missed seeing them on the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour not once but twice, though there were mitigating circumstances.

I moved from Fresno to the Bay Area in June of 1994, and because of that, I missed them at the Great American Music Hall in April of 1994 — I was basically living on savings, credit cards and unemployment checks at that point — and then I missed them in Fresno in September, 1994. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know about that Fresno show until after it happened.

So I didn’t get to see them until they played The Warfield — not even my favorite venue — in April, 1997, where to their credit, they focused the set on Brighten The Corners, and what I liked the most about the show was seeing the guitar interplay between Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kanneberg, the same thing that kinda drives the penultimate Brighten The Corners track, “Starlings of the Slipstream.”

For me, this song is all about the lovely chorus:

Ah-hooo, starlings in the slipstream
Ah-hooo, starlings in the slipstream
Ah-hooo, starlings in the slipstream
Ah-hooo, starlings in the slipstream

Listen hard during that chorus, or for the rest of the song, and you can really hear the guitars playing off of each other, and then again at the end, when it devolves into feedback and noise, taking the piss out of what was otherwise no more — but no less — than another gorgeous tune.

“Starlings of the Slipstream”

“Starlings of the Slipstream” live at Roskilde, 2010

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