On Saturday (February 18th), Pavement played Osaka, Japan, for the first time in 13 years, performing at the 1,500-capacity Namba Hatch that resembles a UFO from the outside. It had also been been nearly 30 years since the band’s first show in the city, a 1994 gig on the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour. This was followed by Japan tours promoting Wowee Zowee in 1997 and Terror Twilight in 1999, just before the band called it quits. Their most recent Osaka show had been in 2010 to play the Summer Sonic festival on their first reunion tour.
Namba Hatch was packed to capacity with hardly any room to move. I met a diehard Pavement fan from Australia who said he attended the reunion shows in 2010 with his daughter when she was just a girl. She became a fan of the band after hearing her father play their songs nonstop. They couldn’t resist an opportunity to see the band together in Japan.
I also talked to a tourist in a Beastie Boys Check Your Head T-shirt who just happened to see the local listings for things to do in Osaka and discovered that Pavement was playing. He got to the venue early and snatched up one of the few remaining day-of-show tickets. A handful of fans bought tickets for entire Japan tour, which included two nights in Tokyo.
It was easy to tell who had been to the Tokyo shows because they were the only ones wearing the new tour shirts. I overheard a member of the staff telling a frustrated customer that all of the tour merchandise completely sold out in Tokyo. There were plenty of vintage tees on display, though, including one from the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour that could probably fetch the price of a full meal at the most expensive sushi restaurant in Japan.
The show started promptly at 6 p.m. with a high spirited performance “Grave Architecture” from Wowee Zowee. This was followed by “Shady Lane,” which got a rousing ovation from the crowd, and was one of six songs the band would play from Brighten the Corners, including “Embassy Row,” “Starlings of the Slipstream,” “Stereo,” “Transport Is Arranged” and “Type Slowly.”
Spiral Stairs, aka Scott Kannberg, delivered a powerful version of “Kennel District” from Wowee Zowee. I think’s one of Pavement’s best songs and I was envious that fans in Tokyo got to hear another Kannberg classic, “Date With Ikea,” from Brighten the Corners. After the first Tokyo show, the band took to Twitter to ask fans what songs they would like to hear. If I had known I would have suggested the obscure Kannberg-penned gem “Painted Soldiers,” from the Kids in The Hall: Brain Candy soundtrack.