Tuesday, March 10
I was curious about this one; I like Parquet Courts, their Sunbathing Animal won me over in spite of being so very much a set of soundalikes as to take me back to when The Strokes burst on the scene and you couldn’t decide whether you were admiring them for their pluck or luck; their songs or sneakiness.
But one thing that’s made obvious, instantly, when Parquet Courts hit the stage is that they can play. This is a tight band – the relentless schedule has paid off and they nailed every single moment, a bit of Marky Ramone drumming here, those rubbery punk guitars all over the shop signalling nothing that actually sounded – at all – like Pavement live (whereas that was almost all I could hear on the record) but instead a set of solid Nu Yawk 70s influences from punk and post-punk and so there was of course the Television/Talking Heads spiralling/duelling dual guitars.
Fans of guitar music – of guitar-based smart/sharp punk-tinged pop songs – could probably feel pretty happy at a Parquet Courts gig. And for a while there I did. But as the gig trod on I admired their skill but, weirdly, they seemed to somehow go from being my new favourite band to the group I suddenly detested all in the one show.
The complete lack of charisma was baffling – so much so that there was a weird energy between audience and band. Okay, sure, there’ll always be the devoted hanging on every lick and word, and excusing the band on stage of any wrongdoing. But these guys were lost between the songs. Strange banter and dead-air was distracting. And then the songs just started to roll on. And on. New songs – jams, all of the ‘hits’ too. Everything you wanted/expected to hear. But it took on the feeling of a paid practice. We came here to play. You happen to be here too.
I wanted to applaud them, also, for leaving it all on the stage, for walking off and not returning to encore. But by the time they played their fourth or fifth extraneous set-closer it was more a case of relief than any great statement; I was thrilled they weren’t returning because the gig was (finally) over. The strange energy gone – it lifted instantly. Worse than that though – none of their songs seemed to stick around at all.
A very weird gig. Talented players. No denying that. One day they might actually write a song or two that means something. They’ve got the chops. Now they just need the tunes – or the way to make them stick. And with that 10,000 hours of woodshedding ticked off, hopefully they’ll start working on a way to work out a way to engage, to sell what they’re doing. To have it mean something. Currently that’s what they’re missing. Currently it doesn’t mean a thing.