Parquet Courts Find a New Gear at Brooklyn Steel on Saturday Night
April 04, 2022
Parquet Courts – Brooklyn Steel – April 2, 2022
The Parquet Courts show on Saturday night opened, literally, with a clown serenading the crowd. Specifically, the Grayscale Clown, singing “Pulcinella” accompanied by Ben Jaffe on saxophone, turning Brooklyn Steel into a smoky jazz club for a few moments, drawing in the crowd. It was the move of a band that doesn’t take things too seriously but then proceeds to lay down a quite-serious set of rock and roll to a packed house, their second in two nights. The four-piece filed onstage at the end of a syrupy saxophone solo, first Max Savage on drums, with a click-click-click on the cymbal, followed by video-game zaps of synthesizer from Austin Brown, the rolling chug of bass from Sean Yeaton and finally a squeal of electric guitar from Andrew Savage, “Application/Apparatus” building from nothing while streaks of light pulsed to match the rhythm. The opening few songs created a delicious tension: lights, rhythm, energy, a tangle of out-there weirdness provoking the audience.
Once the tension broke, around the time Andrew Savage was singing, “Dust is everywhere / Sweep” in “Dust,” whining keyboards and thump-thud bass leading to a meandering rock-out, Parquet Courts had found a new gear. In fact, they kept finding new gears, from the give-and-take with the crowd’s energy in “Freebird II” to the deep psychedelia of “Marathon of Anger” slowing things, the band’s momentum was in the shifting itself. “Sympathy for Life,” their most recent LP’s title track, was disco done Parquet Courts post-punk style, weird and heavy but with a serious groove. “Walking at a Downtown Pace” was one of many songs to showcase their ability to work an earworm melody into their flamethrower rock and roll, thunder-and-lightning drumming with a burrowing guitar riff.
For a stretch in the latter stages of the set, the band and audience seemed to be working on pure adrenaline, songs dropping one into another, no time to rest, no one seeming to need one. The arc of the performance, and likely the two big nights in Brooklyn, seemed to lead up to the set-closing “Stoned and Starving,” dedicated to anyone who saw them “back in the day” playing in small clubs. The band held back nothing for the final tune of the weekend, electric guitar wailing into the rafters, leading to a lyrical callback to the previously played “Light Up Gold,” Parquet Courts expertly closing out things and showing how they got from there to here and will keep on going—no clowning. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | @Silvia_Saponaro