New York quartet’s geometric art rock and expansive repertoire resonates on the south coast
Preoccupied with merely achieving that metallic Andy Gill guitar sound, the swathe of conservative and disposable competitors who are presently jostling with Parquet Courts for audience acceptance, never quite seem able to match the cult New York band’s strange creativeness, always coming up oddly absent in their efforts. There’s something in the group’s apparently spontaneous abstractions and expansive repertoire that resonates more keenly with audiences, a far greater musical tradition blanket woven into their enthusiastic, animated and mature grooves. Completely engaged with evocative storytelling and bumpy melodies, there’s actual meaning to it all.
Avoiding rectangular rock and roll for a more geometric take on art rock, the coughing electronics and playfully droll repetitions of opening number Application/Apparatus, taken from new record Sympathy For Life, shower the attendees with the now expected Fall/Velvet Underground/Jonathan Richman aural references but as the conceptually sharp band rip through an hour and a half of sophisticated tracks like Walking At A Downtown Pace, Dust, Freeboard II, Wide Awake and a multitude of others, you begin to hear a deeper vein of influence suggestively boomerang around the hall.
There are broad touches of Liquid Liquid at one stage, then some aggressive cues taken from the similarly alliterative Medium Medium, a generous smidge of that baggy, pill popping hedonism so beloved of the Happy Mondays and The Charlatans and, even at the end, some uncanny winsome soft rock a la The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac.
Without resorting to cliché, Parquet Courts are really out there using every method at their disposal when it comes to their creative lexicon and impressing fans. Unpredictable barrages of style contribute to the irreverent yet learned vibe they so effortlessly create, be it when they’re lulling with modest folk pop, riling them up with neatly chiselled new wave or pushing towards transcendence with monumental hard edged punk funk.
Wanting to close the show, and not all that big on nostalgia but aware the crowd is indignantly bristling with conspicuous anticipation for ‘that song’, the band thank all present for their continued support by striking up fan favourite Stoned & Starving and – whomp! – the hall erupts with a gust of berserk mania, possessed by some visceral urge to bounce and tear their hearts out with the song’s mock slacker narrative.