Parquet Courts


Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts are an enigma; hard to pin down, hard to classify, hard to keep up with. Alongside their 5 studio albums (the debut which they only released on tape, obvs), the band have also produced another full length under the name Parkay Quarts with two band members absent, an experimental, mostly instrumental EP, and co-bandleader A. Savage has also realised a solo album – all this since 2011. None of their albums sound the same, from the scrappy, furious garage rock of second album Light Up Gold to the new, more groove led Wide Awake!, produced with Dangermouse, they have evolved and mutated in brilliant ways along the years.

Coming on stage at the sold out Ritz to a phenomenal reception (even though it’s a Sunday night, the crowd are most definitely Up For It), they position themselves in front of a large plain white sheet, and as soon as they kick into the stellar ‘Total Football’ the most simple but extraordinary light show illuminates both the band and the sheet, all pinks and blues and greens and oranges throwing large, multicoloured shadows of the band onto the backdrop; it’s beautiful, and changes with the mood throughout the gig. ‘Total Football’ is an absolute jam, and possibly the only time you’ll ever hear a Manchester crowd shout “and fuck Tom Brad2y at the top of their voices back at a band. What follows over the next hour and a quarter, 21 song set, is the most thrilling (*NEW GENRE ALERT*) art-garage-pop show I’m ever likely to see.

You see, everything they do seems slightly like it could fall apart at any moment, but actually you know this band are tight as fuck and it’s all part of the slacker, Brooklyn vibe, and wow does it make for a spectacular gig. Take the second to last song, ‘One Man One City’ from their brilliant 2016 effort Human Performance, which is extended mesmerisingly out to ten minutes plus, the final 6 of those a loose jam where it sounds like the band are all playing from different song sheets, all in their own groove, seemingly unaware that they’re on stage with each other, before somehow they all sync up perfectly to deliver a stirring final crescendo; it’s stunning. ‘Wide Awake!’ is somehow a full on samba, ‘Diego’ the spare drummer coming on to beat the rhythm out on a cowbell, Austin Brown blowing the shit out of a party whistle, the crowd getting well into their party feet and bopping along with the band who all look like they’re having a ball.

The final coda from ‘Freebird II’, a highlight from Wide Awake!, is sung back at the band word for word by the Up For It crowd, the refrain of “free, I feel free, like you promised I’d be” carrying on well after the band have finished (indeed some scamp shouts “play Freebird II again” several times at the band, to which A. Savage replies “calm down, we’ve taken care of the setlist for you, just relax yeah?” which may be my favourite response to a song request ever). A. Savage is just an absolute delight, cool as, barking lyrics in his speak-song way as well as being totally excellent at guitar, I think I have a new band crush. Never ones to shy away from political and societal statements, on ‘Normalization’, the band ask, “do I pass the Turing test/do I want to know?” and “normalization, collective witnessing/immunisation of human sympathy”, intelligent songs dressed up as standard garage rock.

We get a career spanning set delivered at breakneck speed (indeed the band even throw in a Ramones cover at one point), with barely time to draw breath, and throughout the whole thing I have the dumbest grin splattered all over my face. It’s ages since I’ve seen a guitar band this good and I’m not going to lie, I fucking love it. Basically, I want to be in Parquet Courts, if anyone can sort that out I’d be really grateful, thanks.

Parquet Courts: Official | Facebook