Rather than sit here echoing my surprise about what I've read regarding Pavement, all I can say is having seen 2 shows this week, and 4 for the year, they're as good as they ever been. Probably better.
In the late 90s when Pavement was coming to a close bands that jammed a lot more were filling bars like the Wetlands, and it seemed there were tons of them; a new one every month. It looks as if many of them have faded, as has that scene in general. But I really have no idea, I could be wrong; maybe I just stopped searching for those bands? Whatever the case I always wanted Pavement to jam more, and now they do. And now they're better.
Stephen Malkmus's solo band experimented much more during this past decade and that has carried over into Pavement. I'm not merely discussing the lengths of jams, like the one they're playing during "Fight This Generation", but the way they are playing together is so much tighter. If you're thinking to yourself 'Pavement was never about being tight', then I have nothing to say. All I know now is it sounds more modern, and better than it ever has.
While they are/were all very talented musicians they used to all seem to be in their own space, which is fine for what that was. Now it seems they are all actively playing together. Maybe the time apart has forced them to listen to each other more when they are on stage? Again, I have no idea.
The only thing I realize right now is this band has changed with the times. They're not what they once were, and by that I mean they don't sound like they once did. But why would I want them to? I'm not who I once was. Music isn't what it was. These guys are completely different people now. And their music reflects all of these things between who they are, where they've been, what music is, and who they're playing for.
This band could not be playing better right now, and I mean "better" than almost every band.