<em>The Old Blue Last, London Monday, August 19</em>
By the time Parquet Courts come onstage for their fourth-ever UK gig, the crowd have been sinking pints in The Old Blue Last for two hours. This is a secret show, announced a few days ago as a warm-up for Reading and Leeds, and you have to arrive early. Once the four band members squeeze to the front of the club, climb onto the tiny stage and mash through their first five songs without speaking a word, the crowd kick their plastic empties to the side
and get down to messy business.
Parquet Courts formed in Brooklyn, but they originally come from Texas. They are Max Savage (drums) and his brother Andrew (guitar), Austin Brown (also guitar) and bassist Sean Yeaton. Brown and Yeaton bat riffs between each other, and it’s Sean’s job to nod
his head violently to stop faster songs like ‘Stoned And Starving’. Those
songs are shot through with Stephen Malkmus-style lyrics and post-punk basslines, but there’s more than a little of Parquet Courts’ own magic in the way it comes together.
Tonight also serves to launch a new EP, ‘Tally The Things That Broke’, which adds funk and hip-hop to the list of influences. Parquet Courts only play ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ from it. And most of the new material they play is off their next album, the follow-up to ‘Light Up Gold’. ‘Body’s Made Of…’, their opener, features some great back and forth between Austin and Andrew, while ‘Sunbathin’ Animal’ is so dense and static it could have been a Velvet Underground B-side.
Predictably, though, it’s on the ‘Light Up Gold’ tracks that the lagered-up audience start to cause damage. During ‘Master Of My Craft’ and ‘Borrowed Time’, fans – including Chilli from Palma Violets – propel themselves on top of the crowd using the stage for leverage like a giant game of Whac-A-Mole. One fan wavers on the edge for a comically long time before toppling off, and Sean grins at him as he falls back. The four band members are so sweaty they look like they’re melting. But they’re still screaming every incomprehensible word, still smashing through riffs, still breaking clean in all the right places, still being the best thing to come out of Brooklyn all year.