Say It With Me… Parquet Courts

Doors at 8, show at 9:30. You think I could get it together for show time, considering I get home a bit after 6, but no. I must miss something, apparently. It is part of the process.

What I missed last Friday was Devastator’s ripping set at the Owl. I do regret it, from what I heard from those in attendance. They’re now on my short “local must-sees” list. That’s all I can say. I missed it, and I am sorry that such a thing happened. I shall avoid said thing from happening from this day forth.

I shan’t dwell on it.

It’s time to head inside. I’ve achieved the perfect level of cigar breath, my manly peach-flavoured smoke now snuffed, and my dear friend has stepped out of her cab, fashionably late. I expect nothing less.

“It’s only you,” is the response I get when I mention my expected “plus 1” at the door. No “plus 1” tonight. Shit. There goes my subtle sense of entitlement. Well then. No worries. I shan’t dwell on this either. I shan’t!

I quickly order a beer at the front bar – a Brooklyn, to be exact, which for some reason was winking at me from the display of available brews – to wash down the glutton-worthy, ego-sprinkled slice of humble pie I’d been served at the door and was in the process of choking down. Gulp.

Aaah. Much better.

Naomi Punk is not the name of the cute, awkward girl in your high school that dyed her hair black (except for that pink strip) and changed her name to fit her truer, rawer, punker self. No… Actually, who knows, maybe it is that girl’s name… In any case, Olympia/Seattle’s Naomi Punk weren’t exactly cute – what with their slow-banging, stoned-out, gristly rock sound – and any awkwardness was well-dressed in a loose, confident sense of “whatever, we don’t need to impress you”. And yet they did. Their sometimes-galloping but mostly-stumbling jangle-punk is better experienced in your friend’s friend’s humid basement – you know, the one with the yellowing posters covering the punch-holes, and that couple in the corner that seems to have been making out for weeks now, and that funky yet oddly enticing stank of old magazines and bong-water. That is where Naomi Punk happens.

My exposure to Parquet Courts prior to last Friday’s show was their “Light Up Gold Road Trip” documentary (directed by Andy Capper). Seeing the way these four guys interact with one another, their fans, and in different road environments sold me. That and how saying “parquet courts” is one of the sexiest things you can say. It’s sexual verbosity. Say it – “parquet courts”. It pops out of your mouth, rolls, gets kicked a few times, rolls again, and ends with putting out a cigarette. Parquet Courts.

I’m looking at their set list right now – which I grabbed off the stage floor after the show because, yes, it really was that good – and I could have sworn they didn’t open with “Bodies”… I’d bet on it. Hmm. It is a new song (i.e. it’s not on Light Up Gold, which was released in August of 2012 on lead vocalist / guitarist Andrew Savage’s label Dull Tools, and reissued in January of this year on the larger What’s Your Rupture?) so maybe it got bumped down the list on Friday. I distinctly remember “Bodies” for the line“The more you use it, the more it works,” as I couldn’t help but echo it back toward the stage when they played it, and get lost in the slow, one-two boogie shuffle. Anyway, regardless – “Bodies” was great.

Enough pussyfooting – Parquet Courts (say it) is the best live music I’ve experienced this year. It was all gold, from the punk-spiked heel-tapping rock of “Borrowed Time”, to the easy cadence of “North Dakota” with its impeccable words that succeed in painting an enormous, border-crossing mental fresco (“Cigarette advertisement country / Wild and perfect, but lacking something / In Manitoba, they called it boring / At night we hum to, Canada’s snoring”).

Andrew Savage’s vocals, which vary between falsely lazy (“Stoned and Starving”) and ragingly punk (“Yonder Is Closer to the Heart”), are matched by Austin Brown (who’s got to share some bit of blood with Thurston Moore) and his magnetic talk-singing that demands it be listened to (“Master of My Craft” – what, a, banger). The Yankees cap-bedecked Max Savage (Andrew’s brother) and his drums keep everyone in line all while blending in with the overall, slow-motion frame-rate feel of a lot of their stuff (“She’s Rolling”). Bassist Sean Yeaton, perhaps the most physical rocker of the four, serves as the centrepiece on stage, surrounded by the beardless, playing prominent bass lines while whipping his head about.

Parquet Courts’ debut Light Up Gold sticks a flag in the ground, humbly declaring “Hey – we’re here. This is us.” And they can back it up live like nobody’s business. They’re here and they’re just getting started. So get in on the ground floor and eat the special brownie now because this thing is gonna go real high real fast.

Oh, and they’re from Brooklyn. I knew that beer was onto something.

Parrrrrquet Courrrrrts… Parquet Courtsssss…