I was surprised at how small the crowd was for Parquet Courts, whose reputation as one of the most vital New York indie bands of the last decade apparently hasn’t preceded them in Japan, though this is the second time they’ve played Fuji. Under increasingly misty skies and with a light breeze kicking up nicely every so often, they played a blistering 50-minute set consisting mostly of songs from their latest album Wide Awake!. The angular guitar parts and eruptions of punk fury made a huge impression on the small crowd, which reacted viscerally if not necessarily in a demonstrative manner. Guitarist Austin Brown kept responding in a way that was difficult to gauge. Was he taking the piss when he said, “Thank you, goddammit.”
No matter. There was definite connection. As lead singer A. Savage sang in one song, “We are conduits of clear electricity.” The off-centered melodies were reminiscent of Pavement, if Pavement weren’t so cooly Californian. PQ is intense as if by design. When Savage sings, the words seem to explode out of his mouth before he’s aware of it. The rhythm section of bassist Sean Yeaton and drummer Max Savage is jittery, propulsive, insistent. “I’m in the chaos dimension,” Savage sings, and he seems barely able to keep it together.
Though the audience clearly preferred the punkier numbers, they came most alive for the title cut from the new album, where they were joined by a supplemental percussionist and got their disco freak on. The fact that they can stop on a dime while all around them seems to be falling apart is their saving grace. The crowd didn’t know what hit them.