Music Features

Parquet Courts Live! ...nearly

Parquet Courts Live at 285 Kent, Brooklyn NY


Ok, before you all get pissed at me for being so fucking lame, you’ve got to know that, in the words of countless action stars, I’m getting too old for this shit.  I’m 45 years old and in no position to be trawling bars and desolate spaces in the middle of the night looking for the next big thing.  So what I’m about to tell you should be understood in this context.

I was in NYC for a little R&R, eating some good food, buying some books and records and checking out MoMA to see Munch’s The Scream, among other works of art that make a whole lot less sense.  Shortly before leaving for the very large apple, I was informed by my fiancée, who would of course be accompanying me, that a band I had recently raved about would be playing live in Brooklyn this very same weekend.  The band was the Parquet Courts, whose debut album received a favorable review on this site, and whose music was on heavy rotation on my iPod.  After an unsuccessful attempt to secure an interview with the band (unsuccessful because the press dude seemed to have forgotten about me and I couldn’t be bothered to be a pain in the ass about it), I got our tickets online, napped in the early evening after a long, long day, chowed down on some soup dumplings at Shanghai Café, and set off for the wilds of Williamsburg.  I had timed this perfectly, so I thought.  There were four bands on the bill and the Courts were to go on last.  The tickets informed me, or rather misinformed me, that the show would begin at 8:00 pm, so I did a quick calculation that told me each band would be allowed about an hour including set up and breakdown, yielding a Courts arrival time of approximately 11:00.  We showed up around 10:15. 

Now let me be clear that at this point in my life, starting my evening at 10:15 is usually a non-starter; most of the time I’d like to be winding things up by then.  So this was kind of a special night, anticipating seeing the band that I’d been reveling in for days.

So anyways, we stroll into a moderately crowded, small, industrial-looking space, with a corrugated metal ceiling and dilapidated chairs against the wall.  The place had been spruced up with some creative painting and gave the impression of a very cool venue to see a punk band.  Our spirits were high.  I say “our spirits” because we were in a room full of dictionary-picture hipsters who by definition don’t give a shit about anything, being ironically distanced from the art produced by mere humans.  This pose is interesting because while remaining superior to everything around them, they also have to appear supportive of the right things, which leads to a high wire act of dampened enthusiasm that is disconcerting to someone like me, used to singing along with full-throated abandon to Badlands at Springsteen shows.  This vibe is unfortunately addictive, and pretty soon we are both getting a little grumbly while three young gentlemen play/program some kind of techno beat that refuses to vary for 45 minutes.  That’s fine, because no one is really listening, except for the musicians, who seem blissfully unaware that any other people are present. 

Next up, there’s another band – this one with a girl playing a violin and a couple other guys playing actual instruments, though beats appear programmed.  I don’t know the name of any of these bands since no-one introduced them and as far as I can tell they never mention who they are.  Again, fine with me.  If they don’t care if I know who they are, neither do I.  But at this point I’m getting a little antsy.  It’s coming on midnight as this band wraps up and I’m wondering if the Courts are coming on next.  You have to realize, this place is now jam packed with dudes and their purses full of God knows what, I’ve been going at full speed since 9 in the morning, and I’m simply not digging the preview fare offered up on this chilly, snowy evening in Brooklyn.  Soon we become aware, perhaps through osmosis, that, no, the Courts will not be up next.  It hits us, hard, that we are in the city that never sleeps, bars stay open until whenever in the morning, and the band I came to see might not be going on until sometime after 1, if we’re lucky.  The same notion occurs to both of us at the same time – fuck it.  We’ve got plenty to do tomorrow, including travelling six hours to get home, and this just ain’t worth it.  We hurry outside and catch the first cab we see back to the hotel.

So that’s it.  I’m sure the Courts were great because their record has many fairly awesome moments on it, and you should all go out and get it on vinyl.  They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn, but it’s no time for an old dude like me to see a band.  Maybe some day they’ll play at a place offering an early bird special, and you can guess who’ll be the first senior in line to see them.