There’s no point in lying or denying it. The email announcing Parquet Courts would play in SWG3, as opposed to the initially listed Barrowlands Ballroom, was a blow. For what seemed like years, the thought of the adopted New Yorkers playing under the starry ceiling and atop the bouncy dancefloor was a promise to cling to.
It had been a rough time, and any Barrowlands booking on your calendar offered a glimmer of light, but it was not to be.
Then again, you could dwell on missing out on seeing one of the best bands in the world in one of the best venues, but what’s the point in that? Instead, you were about to see Parquet Courts for the third time in SWG3 (in a different space each time), which was enough to ensure Wednesday night was brighter than the West End sky suggested.
An extended intro of ‘Application/Apparatus’ afforded the band and audience ample time to get into gear, and just as well. ‘Human Performance’ kept things ticking over, and ‘Dust’ has long been a live favourite, with yells of ‘Sweep’ bouncing off the walls.
The change came instantly, the next set of songs saw the tempo rise, and it was no surprise before the end of the night, bassist Sean Yeaton was remarking about it raining indoors, which was a minimally gross way of pointing out the condensation dripping from the ceiling.
‘Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience’ was the first, but far from the last, mosh pit of the night, with the atmosphere soaring almost as high as the backing vocals on the latter half of the song. The band might not fully rock out how they used to, but anyone worrying if they still have it in their locker should park those concerns.
With seven songs from the more eclectic recent-ish album Sympathy for Life, it was always going to be a night of different styles. In a way, that’s fine because who knows if the old knees can handle a full-throttle 90 minutes of old-school PC, but with moments to thrash, dance and even ponder, there was something for all.
The gig unfolded with pockets of sounds and styles. Just when ‘Walking At A Downtown Pace’ and ‘Wide Awake’ left you needing a breather, ‘Plant Life’ would roll along, dropping you back down for a rest.
If you like one pace, tempo and style, you’d be frustrated, but life is always better with a touch of variety.
To explain the mix of songs in Glaswegian terms, it’s as if Austin Brown lived for weekly visits to Optimo while Andrew Savage set up residency in Nice ‘N’ Sleazy. Not everyone will appreciate the textured sounds and tribal rhythms that peppered the experimental moments, but if it keeps the band interested and progressing, it should be encouraged. And more importantly, these moments were of the same high standard as the rest. Different and good; different is good!
It wasn’t just a different Parquet Courts gig because of the evolution in sound; there was a lot less belligerence from the stage! Now, cheek and insolence aren’t to be encouraged, but there has always been something endearing about Parquet Courts calling out people who have paid good money to see them, but at SWG3, the group was on their best behaviour.
Alongside the peace signs, the groovy dancing, the calls for yoga and playing while sitting on the floor, there was only a slight bit of sass from Andrew Savage, near the end of the night. The evening was all the better for it! The ‘set-closer’ and ‘encore’ of ‘Stoned and Starving’ and ‘Pulcinella’ might have punched harder if swapped around, but ending on a reflective mood was an apt way to say goodbye to the lads for now.
There was also a shout-out for attendees of the band’s first Glasgow show in Mono, all the way back to Halloween of 2013. As four young lads took to the stage with carpets on their faces, who would have predicted the journey they’d take us on over the years?
Let’s hope there are many more great shows (in any venue), albums and years to come, because no matter how many amazing bands and artists there are these days (and there are), there are not too many like Parquet Courts.
Picture Credit: Andrew Reilly