“The best band to come out of New York since The Strokes,” said Time Out and numerous others of post-punk rockers Parquet Courts. Well, the hotly-tipped quartet didn’t disappoint in the basement of East London’s Sebright Arms.
Before we head onto the main event, though, a word or two for the support act, Splashh. They’re the band Nirvana could’ve been if Kurt Cobain had swapped the rain of Washington State for the sunshine of Sydney. And if he’d laid off the smack… The highlight of their grungy surf rock-filled set being the excellent centerpiece of “All I Wanna Do”.
Alas, the crowd was fairly muted for the Antipodeans, all polite head nods and gentle clapping. Indeed, the set from Parquet Courts elicited little more. However, it had nothing to do with the band, who put in a performance that was off the hook and deserved a crowd that went mental. Melt-your-face mental.
The innocuous-looking foursome rambled onto the stage and blasted off with “Tears O Plenty”, making it much more frenetic than the album version, before swapping vocalists as they immediately tore into album opener “Master Of My Craft” where they spit ‘Ya know Socrates died in the fuckin’ gutter?’. If he did, it must have been after the bearded genius rocked out to Ancient Greece’s version of Parquet Courts.
Sonically, there are nods to Television and early-Strokes, but there’s not the same pretense, nor the focus on a ‘look’. All the effort here goes into the music – it’s all driving drums, spitting lyrics and dirty bass lines.
Although it was their third gig in three nights, there was no let-up in vigor and the delivery was spot on. There was the kind of simpatico between all four parts that not all bands have so early in their career. If you’re looking for comparisons, there’s more than a touch of The Cribs to them – in their performance and in their no-frills tunes.
“Borrowed Time”, with its false stop midway through, was another slab of searing tuneage that provided the joint highlight of the set with album title track “Light Up Gold”; the latter blowing away the crowd with its 100-mile-an-hour lyrics and nagging hook.
The rest of the set flew by in a series of short bursts of some of the most exhilarating live music we’ve seen in some time. At opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of length, the duo of “Stone And Starving” and “Careers In Combat” underlined that these guys aren’t one-trick ponies. If, as Parquet Courts attest in “N Dakota” that ‘At home we hum to Canada’s snoring’, then the Canadians need to get an injection of this invigorating act.
If it was humane, we’d have Parquet Courts in similar-sized venues every night for three months so everyone could sample their tight, unrelenting take on post-punk garage rock in its rightful home.
Go get the album now, listen to it on repeat for a week and then, at the earliest possible convenience, witness them live and enjoy what will probably be one of the most life-affirming gigs you have been to.
Words by Chris Thomas. @ChrisVanThomas