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Parquet Courts comes to PDX

By Harrison Smith /// Staff Writer

“You seem like such an advanced civilization, Portland, and yet you still have this ‘moat.’ I mean, you’ve had curbside composting for like 15 years… But I guess everyone has to screw up sometimes.”

The “moat” that Parquet Courts’ frontman Andrew Savage was berating was a divider segregating the underage post-punks in the crowd from the overage post-dad-punks. This harangue garnered several whoops and affirmations from us young-uns, and a solitary “[expletive removed] you” from the adults. This set the mood for the rest of the night: silly and upbeat, yet with an undercurrent of intensity. Austin Brown, the other songwriter of the band, quipped nihilistic classics such as, “Let Donald Trump run the country. We’re all done for anyway. We’re just done.”

After the sprightly local group The Woolen Men, Parquet Courts played their Texan/New Yorker blend of art-punk for a surprisingly long set: 21 tracks spanning their soon-to-be four album career. During the course of their show, it became apparent to me how prominent the influences of the seminal krautrock band Neu! and the more noisy sides to The Velvet Underground really were. “Dust” (a track featured on their upcoming release “Human Performance”) ended in an earsplitting scrape of sonic nails on a chalkboard.

Amongst the new tracks debuted at the show, they seemed to experiment more with genre than ever before. “Berlin Got Blurry” harks back to their twangy southern roots, mixed with a sparse organ hit that is just so John Cale it hurts. They opened with the refreshingly hilarious hardcore track “No, No, No” from their most recent and critically maligned release “Monastic Living.” Others (which I can’t pair with names yet) flirted with stadium-rock delayed vocals, synthesizer solos, low and dirty cowpunk tremolo strumming. If you listen to their earlier Pavement-esque tracks (“Yr No Stoner”, “N Dakota”), these sonic developments are quite unlike anything they’ve done so far.

Besides the new tracks, Parquet Courts really came through with the classics. The highest points of the night were their rollicking one-two punches of the cynical “Master of My Craft” into the start and stop fun of “Borrowed Time,” and the hyperspeed sunpunk of “Light up Gold II” into the minimalist thrusters of “Sunbathing Animal.” They even played their smash hit “Stoned and Starving,” which had previously been avoided due to the fratboy interest it had piqued. They closed the whole thing down with the epic 6-minute slow burner “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth,” and damn if I didn’t go hoarse screaming that final refrain.

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