Well, here I am: Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, NY, a place better equipped for a 1930s vaudeville than your stoner roommate in college’s favorite band, Pavement. Originally one of the five “Wonder Theatres” (ornate movie palaces built by Loews Theatres Incorporated between 1929 and 1930 with the intention of establishing New York’s preeminence in film exhibition), Kings Theatre on Flatbush Avenue first closed in 1977 following a screening of the fictionalized biography Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth. It stayed dormant for decades until the city renovated it in the 2010s, restoring Harold W. Rambusch’s interior design to its original lavish appearance. Diana Ross officially rechristened the nü-Kings as a performance space in early 2015, playing a show that The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica described as “succinct and purposeful.”
Now, Kings Theatre resides across the street from a Taco Bell Cantina, a tricked-out spin on the OG Taco Bell with booze-y Baja Blasts, and right around the corner from a Spanish Pentecostal church.
I’m here to see Pavement for four nights, September 30 through October 3, on their second reunion tour. Their first was back in 2010, because every band needs to come back from the dead multiple times—but only when the getting’s good. I’m excited to see them, but even more excited to deliver some roving-eye scene journalism, if every Pavement fan in and around Brooklyn constitutes “a scene.”
Upon entry, I see multiple people who look like dead ringers for Stephen Malkmus as well as older, whiter versions of myself. In line for the bathroom, I spot a guy wearing a “Listen To Harvey Danger” t-shirt and overhear another telling his friend, “I don’t think Ween really swears…” His hell must be bar room karaoke that never has “Flagpole Sitta.”
If it isn’t clear yet: I am one of them. A lifelong Pavement student. To the degree that I was (very easily) tricked into shelling out $50 for “the Ambassador Speakeasy Pass,” an “upgrade” that allows for very slightly expedited entry, private bathrooms, a free drink, a separate merch line, and access to something called “Ambassador Speakeasy Areas.” One boilermaker and a $13 Allagsh White later (“Adulthood is an exercise in paying for marked-up beers at legacy indie shows,” I tell myself,) I’m ready to rock, baby.
Brooklyn’s art-y Water From Your Eyes open the first night’s show promptly at 8:00 p.m., playing what I can only half-endearingly describe as “real '00s-era hipster shit,” like DFA 1979 and a crunchier version of solo Art Garfunkel, though I doubt that was their intention. But Pavement could have very easily booked a lesser ‘90s nostalgia act, like, Mofungo, or something, and I appreciate the decision.