1. Inside Matador's 21st Birthday Party!

1/16

(Sonic Youth and Pavement, backstage at the Palms Hotel and Casino's Pearl Theater, October 1, 2010: Bob Nastanovich, Thurston Moore, Scott Kannberg, Mark Ibold, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Stephen Malkmus, Steve Shelley, and Steve West)

The Matador at 21 birthday concert was a 48-hour all-you-can-eat music buffet at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Vegas, featuring more than two dozen roster mainstays of the venerated New York-based indie label (Yo La Tengo, the New Pornographers, Belle and Sebastian), reconstituted alumni (the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Superchunk, Chavez, Pavement in their likely last-ever U.S. appearance), and welcome newbies (Girls, Harlem, Perfume Genius, Esben and the Witch).

All this, plus the temptation to blow one's paycheck on an ill-advised 4:30 A.M. round of blackjack with Pavement's "Frontwards" playing on the P.A. between Ke$ha and the Fray.

SPIN photographed it all, just so Matador could remember what exactly happened. Click here to begin >>
BUY THIS ISSUE
The December issue of SPIN featuring My Chemical Romance
GET IT NOW!>>

2. Inside Matador's 21st Birthday Party!

2/16

(Sonic Youth and Pavement, backstage at the Palms Hotel and Casino's Pearl Theater, October 1, 2010: Bob Nastanovich, Thurston Moore, Scott Kannberg, Mark Ibold, Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, Stephen Malkmus, Steve Shelley, and Steve West)

The Matador at 21 birthday concert was a 48-hour all-you-can-eat music buffet at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Vegas, featuring more than two dozen roster mainstays of the venerated New York-based indie label (Yo La Tengo, the New Pornographers, Belle and Sebastian), reconstituted alumni (the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Superchunk, Chavez, Pavement in their likely last-ever U.S. appearance), and welcome newbies (Girls, Harlem, Perfume Genius, Esben and the Witch).

All this, plus the temptation to blow one's paycheck on an ill-advised 4:30 A.M. round of blackjack with Pavement's "Frontwards" playing on the P.A. between Ke$ha and the Fray.

SPIN photographed it all, just so Matador could remember what exactly happened. Click here to begin >>
BUY THIS ISSUE
The December issue of SPIN featuring My Chemical Romance
GET IT NOW!>>

3. Liz Phair (on Matador from 1993-99)

3/16

"Watching everyone here, it's just incredible how cohesive we all seem as a body of work. Nobody looks like a classic performer who grew up wanting to be the center of attention -- they're all kids who felt smarter, like they could do something better, but it took real courage for them to actually get up and do it. I was so stoned back in those days -- my dorkiness was suppressed by a whole lot of angry cool. But as I stopped smoking as much pot and got my shit together, I got more bubbly and goofy, and I think that's when [Matador] were probably like, 'Let Capitol have her.'?" -- Liz Phair

4. Fucked Up (2009-)

4/16

"Even though they had crazy hardcore roots, we never thought they would be interested in signing us because we're not a 'Matador band.' Which is funny, because there is no real 'Matador band,' but people immediately go to Cat Power, to Yo La Tengo, to Pavement, to Interpol. Not just internally, but externally, being on Matador gave us a stamp of credibility. There were a lot of people who thought of us as that band with the swear word that yells, but Matador signing us was like, 'No, no, no, it's okay -- give it a second look.' We fell ass-backwards into being on one of the top indie labels of all time." -- Damian Abraham, Fucked Up

5. Stephen Malkmus, Pavement (1992-)

5/16

The band were all smiles in their dressing room before their set, but it the show itself featured all the unpolished mayhem and weird vibes we'd all come to know and love before they went and turned pro during this year's gangbusters reunion tour. If this was their last show in the U.S., then Pavement are going out the way they came in. Which is kinda nice.

6. Sonic Youth (2009-)

6/16

"I've known Gerard since he was a teenager. He was a hardcore kid in the pit at SS Decontrol shows. He had a fan­zine called Conflict and was always trying to get bands to fight each other. He's always been a pro-wrestling fanatic -- he thought there was something inherently namby-pamby about independent rock, so maybe he thought, 'I'll infuse this scene with all the conflict of pro wrestling.' " -- Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth

7. Belle and Sebastian (1998-2002, 2005-)

7/16

"The one record we did that came out on a different label in America felt a bit wrong, so it was good to come back to Matador. A lot of the things of the things they do, it's like they're not even there, so what you're left with is just talking to people, and I've always liked everyone at the label. And the records were always in shops, so…" -- Stevie Jackson, Belle and Sebastian

8. Esben and the Witch (2010-)

8/16

"I don't know if I've ever felt so overwhelmed by an experience—the flashing lights, the conflict between the people who are here for this and the people who are just here. We were all very aware of Matador growing up, but they're definitely a bigger deal in the U.S. than the U.K. I would love to meet the other bands, but I'd have no idea what I'd say to them." -- Daniel Copeman, Esben and the Witch

9. Perfume Genius (2010-)

9/16

"One of the first CDs I ever bought was Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. I was never a huge music nerd, but even I knew that Matador logo, you know? It's definitely a little intimidating being around all these artists. To me, signing to Matador was like getting into a really good school." -- Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius

10. Superchunk (1990-93)

10/16

"We were all lucky to get a headstart at a time when you could establish yourself with a fairly low budget, and I think the fact that Matador and Merge both had some records early on that were similar to what the rest of what the label was doing meant that there was a foundation there. A lot of it's luck, but a lot of it is just doing things in a way that you are never in a position like, 'Oh we need to have a big record to keep ourselves going.'"-- Mac McCaughan, Superchunk

11. Guided by Voices (1994-97, 2002-04)

11/16

"I don't know why we ever left Matador. They give you complete freedom. Complete. As a matter of fact, for [1996's] Under the Bushes Under the Stars, I gave them the record, and then at the last second -- they were already pressing it -- I said, 'Man, that's not the record I want, I've got a different idea,' and they were like, 'Cool, let me give you a hand with that.' I don't think a lot of labels would do that. I don't know if it was because of our age, or because of the mystery behind what we were, but they seemed to really embrace us. That was a good time." -- Robert Pollard, Guided by Voices

12. Harlem (2009-)

12/16

"I was walking through the casino, put $5 down on the roulette table and won $250 just as one of our songs came on. It was all definitely surreal. You've got a bunch of guys who love music, maybe too much, throwing a party that probably lost them money or maybe got them in trouble with their significant others. That's cool. It should be a rough weekend." -- Michael Coomers, Harlem

13. The New Pornographers (2003-)

13/16

"I was always a fan of Matador before I was ever on it. And it's nice to know that all these people we were fans of are now our peers. They were the first label we wanted to be on and they were the first label that asked us. It's unfortunate that indie bands have to pretend they don't want to be successful. That's artificial bullshit."-- Carl Newman, the New Pornographers

14. Yo La Tengo (1993-)

14/16

"We've been together a long time, worked with the same producer a long time, been on this label a long time. And I think one of the reasons we can make records that sound different from one another is that so many other things in our life stay the same. It's a hard thing to talk about without resorting to clichés, but Matador really loves music. Why else would you have a record company? But it doesn't always work that way." -- Ira Kaplan, Yo La Tengo

15. Chavez (1995-96)

15/16

"Nobody gave a shit about us. People liked us in New York, but we didn't sell any records, and we definitely didn't fit with most of the stuff that was going on at the time. Chris and Gerard have great instincts, and they had more confidence in their bands than some of them had in themselves. I thought that was pretty cool." -- Matt Sweeney, Chavez

16. Marquee attractions

16/16

"I don't think we ever believed that someone would want to buy everything we put out. think we know that there are some things that are not going to be for everyone. But it's not impossible to think someone would be equally enamored with Fucked Up and Shearwater because we're equally enamored with Fucked Up and Shearwater. Who knows, we might even do this again. And sooner than our 25th."-- Gerard Cosloy, Matador Co-Owner