February 3, 2017
The Parquet Courts show last night at the Neighborhood Theater was an amalgam of everything a Brooklyn indie band is supposed to be. A crowded floor, a carefree attitude, sparse banter throughout the set, and extreme style shifts that throw the audience back and forth against each other. When listening to Parquet Courts in your car with the volume a quarter of the way up, you create an expectation of what the band will sound like live, but these guys seem to aim to destroy any of those expectations.
The band opened with one of the tracks called “Dust” from their latest record, a droning, yet groovy way to kick off the show – it’s a song everyone can nod their head to and get right into the music. That song ends with a huge build, sucking the entire crowd right into the next song, an explosive track that features vocalist Adam Savage’s more aggressive singing style. The feeling in that room changed immediately with the song. Parquet Courts’ live set can only be described as a constant shift between feeling like you’re sinking into a large, comfy chair with beer in hand, and feeling like you’re stuffed into a hot, sweaty, loud basement show. For a four-piece band, these guys know how to produce some serious noise. The entire set was one step ahead of the crowd, not knowing what kind of song would come next. Would it be a downbeat groove with mellowed vocals, or am I going to get shoved across the room by the dude next to me? Each song had its own respective feel to it, but in general, Parquet Courts’ music captures what it’s like to live in New York right now. A fitting hum, interrupted with bursts of cacophony and chaos. Sometimes that chaos comes in the form of an entire song, unrelenting against ears as Savage belts out line after line, and sometimes, only in a short moment, just making sure the audience is still paying attention.
The dual-vocal feature was probably my favorite part of the performance. Savage seems to represent the frustrations, the anger, and the vitriol of the band’s music, whereas Austin Brown’s vocal contributions more attest to the care-free, nearly apathetic side of the band (I could be wrong, but he did look really relaxed in those circular frames). On most songs, the two work together, but at certain points throughout the night, either Savage or Brown would take over solo. Again, Savage brings the anger, bouncing around the stage and getting red in the face as he hurls lightning-fast lyrics into the air; meanwhile, Brown’s job seemed to be to take it down a notch, launching into a Talking Heads-rambling-rant while the band backed his quick poetic speech. All in all, I’d say that Parquet Courts has a handle on crowd control, curating their set so that the audience never gets too rowdy or too relaxed at any point throughout the night, and proving themselves to be a hell of a band. Go check out Parquet Courts in your city, or book them to write the music for your next drug-binge montage. Whichever works.
Watch the music video for “Dust” by Parquet Courts