Parquet Courts


When I first heard Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts’ second album, it’s half spoken half sung vocals and repetitive melodies immediately led me to draw comparisons to The Fall. New track ‘Outside’ has been likened to Pavement by many and a review described their album Human Performance as sounding not dissimilar to Wire. Tonight however, I realise that to view them as derivative is completely inaccurate and deceptive, as Parquet Courts demonstrate the truly idiosyncratic style they have created.
Despite the fact that this show has been sold out for over a month, it still surprises me to see the huge crowd that have amassed under the railway arches that Gorilla have transformed into their gig space. For a band with zero social media presence playing a peculiar brand of punk, this audience is genuinely impressive. Looking around highlights the variety of people that have turned out to watch the group, which is emphasised even more when a split develops between the pedal gazers (a term I don’t use pejoratively as I very much fall into this category) and the sweaty members of the mosh pit. It takes all sorts to make a gig crowd, and this is very much the case this evening. Whatever has initially attracted people to the band though, it’s clear from those here that their music has the power to keep them in its thrall.

Opening with ‘Outside’ followed up by ‘Dust’, Parquet Courts are here to showcase their new album, and the singalongs these two songs provoke show that they are very much preaching to the converted. All the tracks from Human Performance meet with resounding positives, with the final thrash of ‘I Was Just Here’ getting the most riotous, if short-lived, reaction of the evening. However, ‘One Man, No City’ is the best example of Parquet Courts individual style, as the song verges from a choppy two chord rhythm played over drummer Max Savage’s bongo playing, to a psychedelic wall of guitar noise in the vein of the Velvet Underground. The band also mix it up with some of their slower songs, ‘Dear Ramona’ from Sunbathing Animal giving the crowd a brief breather before the later assault of the duo ‘Bodies Made Of’ and ‘Black and White’.

In light of a recent revelation that he is a Manchester United supporter, guitarist Austin Mitchell’s comment that the city is home to the ‘greatest football team in the world’ causes him to briefly lose sections of the audience, before he wins them back over stating that he was referring to England, and then launching into fan favourites, ‘Master Of My Craft’ immediately followed by ‘Borrowed Time’, the two songs linking effortlessly together. Throughout the set as Mitchell and bandmate Andrew Savage tear up the speakers with near deafening feedback, his brother Max and bassist Sean Yeaton provide a metronomic level of time keeping throughout, with Savage keeping the beat freeing up Yeaton to provide almost funk-like basslines, (see ‘Bodies Made Of for a perfect example), which seem surprisingly at odds with the bands punk tendency, but manage to fit in perfectly. In a sense, this sums up the tone of the evening, surprising, individual and unique, yet perfectly formed and accessible.

Tonight Parquet Courts have managed to span 4 albums worth of material, in a set list that at 20 songs long seems ambitious, but their captivating ability as a live band means I barely notice the length of the performance. Rather, it’s captivating to see how such a unique style of music can still find such a large audience, which is hugely promising for any new band and new sound. In ‘One Man, No City’ Mitchell sings that ‘I have no faith,’ but it’s clear from the audience reaction the band, that there is plenty of faith, both in the Parquet Courts, and the DIY ethic that they consistently promote and pursue.

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Matthew Bellingham

As an English Literature student it seemed almost a prerequisite that I should pursue some form of writing, so apologies for any undergraduate pretentiousness that is detected. I try to catch concerts in both my hometown of Manchester and my adopted University hometown of Sheffield. I started regularly attending gigs as recently as 2015, and since then have continued to turn up as frequently as possible. Personal highlights include Horsebeach's debut Manchester show and Eagulls' gig at the Broomhall Centre in Sheffield.