Spiral Stairs played O’Brien’s – 3/28

Solo rocker and onetime Pavement foil Scott Kannberg headlined a stacked bill at O’Brien’s under his Spiral Stairs moniker with The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour and local trio Halfsour last month. 

There was a lot of noteworthy live music going on in Boston on this late March Thursday evening, but it’s not every Thursday that a pair of foundational players of foundational indie rock team up at your neighborhood bar. This was a gig worth prioritizing.

Kannberg – whose touring appearances don’t number quite so high as his prolific former bandmate Stephen Malkmus – hit the road this spring in support of his new LP We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized. His freewheeling O’Brien’s set offered a satisfying spread of solo material, cuts from his post-Pavement project Preston School of Industry and, naturally, a few golden oldies.

Opening the set with “Hit the Plane Down,” one of the loosest, weirdest songs to ever make the cut for a Pavement LP, was a setlist power move if I’ve ever seen one, and it was that sort of set from front to back. Kannberg was in full frontman mode, working a smallish bar crowd like a massive sell-out audience and clearly having a lot of fun doing it. His four-piece band sounded great through the occasionally improvised twists and turns, and hearing some rarities like the b-side “Painted Soldiers” or a rabidly requested “Two States” to close the night was deeply satisfying to my inner Pavement nerd.

Kilgour’s set – also in support of a recent release, last year’s Finklestein – took the opposite track, quickly settling into hushed singer-songwriter singularity with only the sparse accompaniment of a drummer. A different universe entirely from the nervy melodicism of The Clean, but compelling in its own strange sense.

Halfsour, perhaps the Boston band who most quickly come to mind in the Pavement to Clean frame of reference, served as an ideal opener for the night as they previewed material from their forthcoming sophomore LP.

See photos from the whole evening below.