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Who is Pavement ? Stephen Malkmus, the band's chief singer-songwriter, has been heralded as a new breed of poet by the New Yorker -- despite the fact that nothing he says makes any sense. On the song "Stereo," Malkmus wonders: "What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy." Not the kind of deep thoughts you'd expect from someone who admits to reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery. Is he serious? The band actually treats itself, and its audience, like a joke. Pavement's most famous song, "Cut Your Hair," was about shallow music fans who judge people on their hairdos. Yet the band had just fired its drummer, Gary Young, for looking like a hippie. Are they kidding? Even if they are, Pavement's lackadaisical song structures and seemingly haphazard live shows have changed the face of alternative music. Without Pavement, we'd have no Beck -- nor would we have hundreds of indie bands trying to approximate that half-baked but oh-so-catchy sound. Are they famous? Their guitarist-manager, Spiral Stairs, refuses to speak to anyone at Rolling Stone. Malkmus often insults other bands in his songs. The band is still on Matador Records, the little label that first signed it. As a result, the music press (and the music industry) never stops talking about it. So who is Pavement? Just five guys from the redneck town of Stockton, Calif., who somehow became the most important rock band of the decade. Pavement plays Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Ogden Street Concert Hall, 652 S. Ogden St.

-- Rafer Guzman


One of the most prominent of the younger generation of American concert organists is Stewart Wayne Foster, for whom things could hardly be going more swimmingly. A native of Melbourne, Fla., he began his climb to prominence in the organ world in 1991, when he was awarded the coveted French Premier Prix de Virtuositi after playing a major recital in Paris' Church of St. Augustine. Returning to the United States in 1995 to pursue a master's degree in harpsichord and early music at the University of North Texas, he subsequently entered the first Dallas International Organ Competition, held in April 1997. When the dust settled, Foster had won the $25,000 first prize, the largest award ever given to a competitor in an organ competition. Spontaneously, the listeners somehow got together and voted that Foster be given the Prize of the Audience. Another perk was a string of recitals, one of which, sponsored by the Buffalo chapter of the A.G.O., will be presented at 4 p.m. Sunday in St. Paul's Cathedral. Foster's program is interesting, concluding with works right out of the middle of the Romantic era: Schumann's "Four Sketches," Op. 56 (originally for pedal pianoforte), and unusual transcriptions of Chopin's Etudes in A minor, Op. 10 No. 2, and in C-sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 10. From the central organ repertoire he will play the Bach/Vivaldi Concerto No. 5 in D minor and the Prelude from Dupre's Tenth Organ Symphony. Other works will be the "Grand Dialogue" (Third Book) by Marchand, "Amazing Grace" and "Haec Dies Resurgam" by Robert Hebble and Leo Sowerby's "Requiescat in Pace."

-- Herman Trotter

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