KEXP at SXSW 2013, Day 4: Parquet Courts

photos by Dave Lichterman

With a list of influences that including Dire Straits, Napalm Death, Beat Happening and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, it’s not an easy task to define the straightforward and honest sound of indie rock four-piece Parquet Courts. Their clean and simple guitars accompanied with in-your-face and incredibly smart vocals, delivered alternately via mellow chants and frantic shouts, bridges 70’s alt-rock with low-fi punk and everything cool in between. Although hailing now from New York City, Parquet Courts features a talented group of Texas musicians, including members of Denton bands Fergus & Geronimo and the recently retired Teenage Cool Kids. Although their debut “album,” American Specialities, an eclectic cassette of 4-track demos and live recordings, didn’t get much attention outside of a small, dedicated circle, since the release of their first official LP, Light Up Gold, in January, Parquet Courts have been making quite a splash.

But what would Parquet Courts deliver live? That seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind, as even DJ Troy Nelson who introduced them admitted he was told they were a SXSW must-see SXSW band. The answer did not come immediately, as the band started with a slow, deliberate beat of “She’s Rolling,” gaining momentum along the way with each refrain, like a locomotive gaining steam or a big 18 wheeler getting going from a full stop. And that’s exactly the image that stuck through the rest of their set. The bass and percussion are the engine driving this ensemble, like the rhythm of wheels on pavement, but their searing guitar and spoken/sung/shouted vocals on top bring the humanity to this machine. Taking this questionable analogy further, “Master of My Craft” had enough twang to evoke images of riding on a Texas highway with a 6-pack of Lone Star in your truck, looking for the next SXSW party to crash. But this truck did not stop at red lights or rest stops once it got going, with barely a beat separating each song. Finally the moster truck barreled into “Stoned and Starving” at top speeds, with the entire crowd at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop onboard. Even two KEXP DJs (who shall remain nameless) were sighted playing air guitar and air drums simultaneously in celebration of this indie rock anthem. Yes, Parquet Courts have arrived. Don’t get run over!

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