Dammit, we were ready for this. ‘Light Up Gold’ by Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts has been kicking around since before Christmas, a concise set of slacker-punk combining the best bits of The Strokes, Pavement and The Modern Lovers. With a UK release coming in April, the band are in the country for the first time this week for a trio of London showcases.
Tonight’s tacked on finale (thanks to Teen Creeps) is their last date before flying out and the four former Texans are celebrating too, taking to Audio’s cramped stage while passing a bottle of neat tequila between them. Down the front there’s a guy filming – Parquet Courts’ founder Andrew Savage shakes his hand and addresses the room, urging us to ignore the metal barriers between us and the stage. It’s a lively crowd for an early show, but one that stays polite as the band rumble into melodic opener ‘Tears O’ Plenty’.
Things pick up quick as Savage and co-vocalist Austin Brown speed up through ‘Light Up Gold’’s sucker punch of opening tracks. ‘Master Of My Craft’ is a dumb singalong, while ‘Borrowed Time’ has a serrated chorus that kicks the dancing off. Savage’s admission he knows Brighton crowds are better than London ones helps.
There’s an awkward pause after a frantic ‘Yr No Stoner’ when some abstract heckling makes the band realise that Audio is at least as hammered as they are. A new song, ‘She’s Rolling’, eases the pressure momentarily, but as soon as they’re back in New York punk mode for ‘Yonder Is Closer To The Heart’ the beer starts flying, the dancing’s turning to slamming and our cameraman friend is struggling to stay steady as the barrier shakes. Another newie, ‘Smart Aleck Kid’, is a breakneck number that’s gone in 60 seconds, and even though the Malkmus-esque ‘N Dakota’ and deadbeat admission ‘No Ideas’ are relatively slower the audience aren’t letting up.
It’s the relentless churn of ‘Stoned & Starving’ that finally does it. Savage has already used the barrier to see-saw howling noise from his guitar neck, but once he’s back on stage the pressure from the pit causes it to buckle and bend. A couple of well-aimed kicks and it’s down, the crowd surging onto the stage at last. The band plays on, Savage leaping from the mess around him into the chaos below, ad libbing lines as he tumbles to the ground in a mess of limbs. Christ knows what happened to that camera.
Parquet Courts depart in a cloud of feedback. Our ears are fucked, and so’s the stage. It’s been an incendiary debut – we haven’t seen an American band make such a devastating first impression since fellow Texans …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. They’re back for The Great Escape and you’d be a fool to miss them.
Audio, Friday 22nd March 2013
Words by Stuart Huggett