“You’ve been ducking & dodging but you can’t go home no more” acerbically spits Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage.
Whether releasing eschewed psych with PC Worship, blurring boundaries as ‘Parkay Quarts’ or overtly channelling the spirit of nearly every anxious NYC rocker of note from the past half-a-century – Andrew Savage, Austin Brown, Max Savage and Sean Yeaton have been ducking & dodging (and ultimately, defying) expectations from the off.
Akin to the rodeo bull pictured on the cover of their official debut, this bracing opening number chugs along, rattling-off beatific verse before bucking into adrenaline-shot two-second burst-choruses. Pints are spilt. Attention’s grasped. The politest mosh pit of overexcited onlookers opens up. In a lyrical context, ‘Ducking & Dodging’ centres on fear but delves deeper, as Savage has detailed in interviews. Dealing with everything from Schoenberg’s 12-tone music composition to Stalin’s oppressive stranglehold on the arts, it serves as a basic example of how they can flit from brains, to teeth, grit and bare-knuckle at the turn of a power chord. Whether a philosophy post-grad from the student union downstairs or a part of the feverish, drunken thrall up front, they’ve got you covered.
Unlike Eagulls there’s little posturing on their part. Any potential awkward profundity is offset by easy-going asides, like suggesting they might launch into ‘Song 2’ or just the fact bassist Sean Yeaton comes across as effortlessly hilarious nearly of the time. The four count-in of ‘Master Of My Craft’ into ‘Borrowed Time’ still barrels by with the same unhinged energy it held back in 2013. Yet now their set is punctuated by southern-country slacker rock, cataclysmic, distorted outros (like in ‘Dust’) and more visceral, inward-looking, angst-fuelled excavations like ‘Human Performance’ and ‘Outside’.
As my grinning guest is hoisted above the crowd, I fumble for my footing and try to recount previous Parquet Courts shows. Each occasion I fail to remember the details but the overall feeling resides; the urgency, the energy, the angst, the hysteria, overwhelming and coalescing in each individual listener, whilst also running through every aspect of the band’s music. By the time they’re closing with ‘Berlin Got Blurry’, frankly it all has. In one-way or another, Parquet Courts force you to live and act in the moment, and for that we’re incredibly grateful.