by Jolie Klefeker
Parquet Courts was ineffably one of the most oddly captivating shows I’ve attended. Albeit their onstage personalities were at times irritating, the Americana-punk rockers fell nowhere short of impressing the crowd.
For me, the festivities commenced at around 10:30 when Chicago’s fuzzy art-punk duo, The Funs, began their set. Unfortunately, I managed to miss the first opening act, Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan, due to some amazing fish tacos… Consisting of only a drum set, vocals, and a guitar, the two members of The Funs constantly switched between the two instruments which was both interesting and frustrating. While they had a good thing going, their performance sounded more like a collection of demos than anything complete. Even though they had clearly established a lo-fi vibe, they could still benefit from a little more continuity and polishing. The audience was clearly as conflicted as I was; some people were cheering, some remained still, and a few bold attendees did not hesitate to voice their negative opinions. There were several“boos” and “I’m clapping because it’s over”s that escaped from the crowd during their set. The Funs exited the stage with a polite applause but it was clear that the anticipation of the following act was receiving more of the praise.
At around 11:30, Parquet Courts finally took to the stage. The crowd roared and surged forward as the Brooklyn four-piece slowly made their way into the blueish haze cast by the stage lights. As they kicked things off with the track “Always Back In Town,” the audience instantly began to churn, neither completely a mosh nor completely stagnant. Although the group had the crowd’s attention, it wasn’t until the more upbeat songs that the true merit of Parquet Courts as punk band was apparent. Tracks like “Ducking & Dodging” undoubtedly brought the crowd to life, the rhythm of their dancing perfectly in sync with the volatile tempo of the song. In between tracks the group remained fairly quiet, but when they did speak it was just as engaging as their music. They fired jokes about midwestern slang and critiqued the stage diving of the occasional eccentric fan, describing it as a ‘lost art.’
Parquet Courts came on a lot rougher live, in comparison to their recordings. The guitars were grittier, the vocals messier and more aggressive. While their personalities were nowhere near as loud as their music, they still managed to keep the audience completely enamored with their aloof nature. But, their stoic personas were also perplexing at times. The group was definitely working hard to maintain an “I don’t really care,” kind of attitude, which they succeeded at. Thus, their attempts to seem appreciative towards the crowd were lackluster at best. Although, their apathy wasn’t fully realized until, of course, they neglected to give an encore despite the crowd’s cheering. Parquet Courts closed things out on a slower note with their sauntering ballad, “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth,” a personal highlight of the evening. Although the organ on the track was sincerely missed live, the song still managed to unite the entire audience through a gentle and calm swaying. The aggressive ending of the song hurled the entire crowd back into chaos for one last moment as Parquet Courts played their final chords on the Thalia Hall stage.