Warming up for the coming weekend’s Reading and Leeds festivals, New York punk-rock foursome Parquet Courts call at London’s Old Blue Last and immediately pack the venue’s 150-capacity space to the rafters.
To say the band is a hot property is something of an understatement. To look at tonight’s audience, queuing out the door well ahead of schedule, you’d think this was the most promising group to have emerged from the Big Apple since The Strokes.
Parquet Courts’ promotion of their ‘Light Up Gold’ debut LP, (re-)released in the UK in early 2013, has seen them travel from the States to tour across Europe, and their reputation develop from underground appreciation to international acclaim.
It’s the band’s taste in music, which in turn informs their own, that eases the lasting impression: this sound is a clever collage of the finest guitar music to have flowed from their hometown.
There are shades, too, of The Modern Lovers in the clean guitars and almost spoken-word-like lyrical delivery. Experimentation, spilling into extended improvisations, and the clattering of instruments against amplifiers reflects the experience of a Sonic Youth gig.
And everything is played at a frantic tempo – a speed that easily induces a swirling mosh pit. Stage-divers persistently go about their business, while beer rains down from flung cups, adding to an already sweaty atmosphere.
The real thrill of watching Parquet Courts comes from knowing that this isn’t simply thoughtless thrash, as it bears significant evidence of coherent, accomplished songwriting. The balancing act of creativity and chaos leaves the onlooker with a sense of fulfilment, and the suggestion that we’ve just found a new band able to channel punk’s energy in a wholly contemporary way.
Reading and Leeds are going to play host to a new set of unlikely heroes. Don’t miss them.
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Words: Cai Trefor
Photos: Louis Little
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