Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks at Crescent Ballroom, 2/24/12

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks Crescent Ballroom Friday, February 24

Okay, Phoenix. First, the good news: According to no less an authority than Stephen Malkmus, godfather of slacker cool, genuinely tall and good-looking former frontman of Pavement and current leader of The Jicks, Portland now considers Phoenix a rival city. "We've been driving through [Phoenix]," Malkmus said, looking lanky and shaggy with a Fender Stratocaster slung at his waist. "It's like the Phoenix renaissance. Phoenix is rising from the ashes . . . the city is officially livable."

Now, the bad: According to the same indie-rock hero, Phoenix Sun Steve Nash is a big fan of Foster the People. Or something. "Steve Nash is saving his energy for Foster the People," Malkmus joked. There was plenty of that -- playful banter among bassist Joanna Bolme, guitarist/keyboardist Mike Clark, and drummer Jake Morris.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.