Show Review: Parquet Courts @ The EARL 1/29

Photo by Hillery Terenzi
Photo by Hillery Terenzi

It’s one of the first temperate evenings to settle into Atlanta since winter came along and forced us out of our tank tops and into our coats and hats. There were probably several parks where new couples strolled together, still able to genuinely relish holding hands. Restaurant patios were probably less barren and lonesome looking than they had been in months. Still, many of us ATLiens opted instead to avoid the outdoors and cram ourselves into every dark corner of the Earl in East Atlanta to watch Parquet Courts AKA Parkay Quarts (sometimes) play a sold out show and remind us of what rock & roll sounds like.
The evening was like the first hill of a roller coaster.

Opening act Uniform dumped grindcore-ish noise sludge all over everybody – a performance that may or may not have been helped (who could really tell?) by the not exactly awesome standards of sound quality of the venue. It was a show that prompted at least one drunken concert-goer that I overheard to announce to his friends that he hated the Earl. Personally, I like to think the Earl hates him back. That’s part of its charm.

Follow-up Predator leveled things out just enough so that Parquet Courts wouldn’t look tame and innocuous by comparison. They danced the line between prog-metal and post-hardcore with an endearing kind of deliberate sloppiness. It took a few minutes for them to sound like they had gotten comfortable, but once they settled in and really embraced their unpretentious crappiness things really started to get fun, and the backs of crowd member heads that initially looked like they just wanted this band to hurry up and finish so that they could hear “Stoned and Starving” began to bob up and down in rhythm. Just when they were reaching their peak, as if they were being careful not to burn out, they yielded the floor to New York’s Parquet Courts.

Ever since the foursome’s lauded Light Up Gold came out in 2012, Parquet Courts have seemed to be uniquely stuck in a time that they’re just barely old enough to be nostalgic of. They’re like Pavement at their most turned up or perhaps a more conservative, harmonic Sonic Youth. Tracks like “Dear Ramona” and “Instant Disassembly” ambled along pensively, almost as if they’re a memory of a better place, if not necessarily a better time, while bangers like “Sunbathing Animal” tore out of the speakers like they loved you and hated you at the same time. Occasionally the music would pause so that front man Andrew Savage could do the standard tease the crowd thing or thank the openers, but fortunately the tracks tended to be strung together with quick transitions that didn’t give you a chance to breathe before more rock was jammed into your ear holes. Some of the most exciting moments of the show happened in these intense times during the very brief moments between the songs.

In an era where the independent music scene seems dominated by dubstep maestros posing as lounge singers or new-new-wave collectives of kids who stand behind synthesizers and do God knows what with those little knobs, it’s nice to see four guys stand up on stage and whip their hair back and forth like Willow Smith probably would if she could play an instrument. Parquet Courts seemed too busy actually being cool to be concerned if they looked cool or not. That’s probably why the guys in the crowd with the biggest bald spots seemed to be enjoying themselves the hardest. We were listening to music that, while not always the most dynamic, was undeniably real music. If the world ended tomorrow, the extra-terrestrials documenting our existence would probably mark Parquet Courts as the very last rock band to come around worth giving a damn about, and they’d undoubtedly bump “Borrowed Time” while they watched our little rock light up gold.


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