Parquet Courts Concert Review – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH – 02.01.14
The music of Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts seems to fit impeccably within the canon of New York City’s rich, storied indie rock scene.
The four piece, consisting of Andrew Savage (guitar/vocals), Austin Brown (guitar/vocals), Sean Yeaton (bass) and Max Savage (drums), craft witty, concise post-punk numbers packed with wiry guitar interplay, direct rhythmic pacing and a unique brand of lyrical dexterity rarely seen in contemporary rock music, or elsewhere for that matter.
The band reissued their excellent debut ‘Light Up Gold’ in January 2013, garnering substantial critical buzz and widespread acclaim (and holding the undoubtedly coveted spot of being this writer’s favorite non-Kanye West album of 2013).
Sunday, March 2, Parquet Courts took to the stage at Beachland Ballroom. Opening the night was “She’s Rolling,” a rhythmically plodding number punctuated by Savage and Brown’s dueling feedback solos.
It is this type of deliberately dissonant guitar interplay that the band truly excels at. The band’s occasionally jarring yet keenly melodic sonic approach is equal parts chaos and control. To manage this delicate balance is unquestionably impressive.
Several new songs comprised the early part of the set. “Bodies Made Of…,” “Black and White” and “Vienna II” illustrated, as Savage described in a recent interview, a more “aggressive” and “economical” musical approach on the band’s behalf.
Following the new material was a run of songs from ‘Light Up Gold,’ kicked off by album opener “Master of My Craft.” A series of sardonic witticisms by Brown (“I didn’t come here to dream/Or teach the world things” and “Yeah people die/I don’t care”) prove as comedic as they are biting. The track segued immediately into the equally raucous “Borrowed Time.”
Elsewhere, “Yr No Stoner” and “Stoned and Starving” both featured extended guitar theatrics interspersed throughout their entirety. Once again, the calculated manner in which Savage and Brown yield such discordant sound from their guitars while still exhibiting total restraint is a sight to behold.
Another new song followed “Stoned and Starving,” and had I possessed the capacity to momentarily halt my bodily thrashing at the front of the stage to view the setlist tapped to the ground in front of me, I could relay its title. But alas, Parquet Courts are simply too dynamic a live force to look away from.
“You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” and “Descend (The Way)” – both off the group’s latest EP ‘Tally All the Things That You Broke’ – followed in suit. A sped-up rendition of “Yonder is Closer to the Heart,” the punchy vignette “Light Up Gold II” and set closer “Sunbathin’ Animal” finally got the primarily docile Beachland crowd moving (granted, about 13 or 14 songs too late).
But overall, despite a general lack of palpable crowd energy (but boy, they sure looked cool), Parquet Courts’ catalogue translates extremely well in a live setting.
The band has skillfully carved out a sonic niche, and to see where they’ll progress next will certainly be intriguing. For now though, to call these up-and-coming indie rockers masters of their craft seems more than apropos.