Words by Seth Johnson/Photos by Roberto Campos
In recent years, excitement has seemed to follow Parquet Courts wherever they’ve gone, and for good reason. Recently, the band made their way through Bloomington, Indiana in support of their excellent 2016 release, Human Performance. In the sweaty, sold-out crowd, our Seth Johnson soaked in all 23 songs of the New York band’s career-spanning set, eventually coming to the conclusion that Parquet Courts is a band everyone needs to experience live.
1. Their sets are to the point, while also packing a punch
There aren’t many bands that pack 20+ songs into an hour-long set anymore, but that’s just what Parquet Courts did on this night (see set list below). Reminiscent of Guided By Voices, the band rocketed through song after song, only taking brief breaks to tune every now and then. During these breaks, they also managed to keep the crowd engaged, even chatting with them about wrestling great Stone Cold Steve Austin at one point.
2. They don’t take themselves too seriously
At one point during this Parquet Courts set, the band’s banner began to fall from the wall behind them. Rather than making any fuss, the members simply joked about how their record label (Rough Trade Records) was the only reason for the banner. “You guys know who we are, or else you wouldn’t be here,” they joked.
3. Their energy is infectious
Despite the very hot temperature at this show, Parquet Courts’ energetic live sound kept fans moving (and sweating) throughout the entirety of their set. Much of this can be attributed to their generally upbeat nature, heard in older songs like “Black and White,” “Borrowed Time,” “Stoned and Starving” and “Sunbathing Animal.” This overall feeling of being at a kickass party remained present during their slower songs, too, however.
4. They bring the audience onto their level
While many bands often try to accomplish this with their live shows, there are few I’ve experienced that do it quite like Parquet Courts. For example, the stage lights at this show were accidentally turned off at one point in the set. With this turn of events, the band simply asked the crowd if they wanted the lights on or off. After cheers of approval for the latter, Parquet Courts went on to play a song in complete darkness, humorously making the audience feel even more a part of the show.
5. Their music is thoughtful yet incredibly fun
Over the past half-decade, Parquet Courts have released several solid albums. Arguably, though, their best to date is 2016’s Human Performance, which was featured heavily at this show. Time and time again, the group’s latest full-length pulls the listener in with irresistible pieces of songwriting. A few personal favorites of mine include “Dust,” “Outside” and “One Man No City.”