Show Review: Parquet Courts At Lee’s Palace

By Georgia Morris

We all come up with ridiculous procrastination methods during exam season: we marathon Malcolm in the Middle in its entirety; we download GameBoy emulators and try our hardest to ‘catch ‘em all’; we scroll through Bunz Trading Zone for hours, far more inspired by potential DIY success than by potential academic success. And then, in the midst of these activities, we become suddenly, shockingly aware of how mind-numbing they are, of the time we are wasting, and of the long list of things we need to get done.

This is why I found myself thinking about Dante’s Inferno last night [Editor’s Note: December 9, 2015] at Lee’s Palace, not even ten minutes into Parquet Court’s set. After running late and missing what other attendees described as an “actually pretty cool” opening set by hometown band New Fries, I walked into the wall of noise that was NYC-based Pill, the second opening act. They played about 45 minutes worth of distortion, wailing, and percussive sax, that was, if not musically, at least comically entertaining. The applause, or lack thereof, they received indicated I was not the only one who was more than a little skeptical.

Then, when Parquet Courts took to the stage and started into a droning bass line – ten minutes of a seemingly destination-less build – the familiar, procrastination-induced existential crisis hit me and the concert took on that distinct, mind-numbing feeling. Even the thought of writing an essay on Inferno’s Christian morality seemed more exciting (a group of seemingly girls agreed, blowing by me on their way to the door). However, just as I had begun to retreat into arguments, literary theory, and counter-claims, the drone – a carefully devised lesson in the lesson in monotony – stopped, and the grime-y opening chords of “Bodies” pulled me out of my trance. The crowd’s relief, as we all relaxed and cheered, was tangible.

The New York band’s November release of a new EP, Monastic Living, had me wondering what to expect from their show: would it showcase their new boundary-pushing grungy instrumentals or the garage-y, post-punk jams of 2014’s Sunbathing Animal LP? In the end, they mixed both together, adding distortion to Sunbathing Animal’s hits to create that filthy dance vibe that the Lee’s Palace venue has built its name on. They also played a couple of the instrumental tracks from Monastic Living, embellished with a little more ornamentation than the album versions, which provided an intriguing contrast to banging renditions of the more popular “What Colour is Blood” and “Black and White”. Surprisingly, the song least intriguing at their show was the one I liked most on the album; live, “Dear Ramona” lost its groove and became the unwanted mellow point of an otherwise exhilarating, raucous concert. But when the following number was another fast, fun one that got even the grouchy bald guy beside me swaying ever so slightly, I gave up on keeping track of the setlist and joined the mosh, where I was happily lost until the end of the show.

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