Two years ago felt like such a long time ago. I was recently shown a picture from back then, it was myself and a friend at a Nine Inch Nail concert. It was two years ago, yet I looked about seven years younger. Since then I’ve developed age spots, a balding spot, and love handles. I guess these things are what you expect with age, but two years?! Seriously! I also saw Parquet Courts two years back, and returning to their garage rock sound (think modern day Minutemen) in the live environment was something else. What’s two years? It’s nothing, it’s everything.
So since the Manchester show in 2014, Parquet Courts have released three albums and one instrumental EP. Sounds have been refined, deconstructed and even turned into the enduring sort of noise rock that drives the lyric lovers insane. In a way it’s endearing.
Not all of this is seen in the latest live set though, with most of the songs pulling from the beginning and the now. All the experimentation in between is largely absent, for a band such as Parquet Courts, it feels a little on the safe side. Sure ‘Monastic Living’ was on the critically panned side of the ocean, but they probably would have been something else live. And as far as I’m concerned the album ‘Constant Nausea’ is by far the best thing they’ve put out so far, it’s like the Wowee Zowee of their discography (had to get a Pavement mention in somewhere!)
But the tracks from ‘Light Up Gold’, ‘Sunbathing Animal’ and the hopeful hits of ‘Human Performance’ are what we get. Well for the most part. There are smatterings of the in between which end up onto the set list, with the ranting ‘Content Nausea’making for the perfect conclusion, and ‘Psycho Structures’ beforehand promising a turn to the weird.
I guess when making a crowd pleasing set list, this is always going to happen, and they played everything as well as they did two years ago. They’ve got it all down, rough edges turned into something more predetermined. It makes things tighter, and they play with a level of deep concentration which ensures the tracks are hitting as they should be. The mosh pit is still present, the cheers are still there, hell, my head’s moving as it should be during the awesome drone filled ‘One Man No City’. You go to see this band and you won’t have a bad time.
Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about two years prior. The band looked much younger, as I did, and they played much rougher. The edges made it feel like it came from a garage, now it feels like the garage sound is being replicated from a distant memory. I had a good time, but I had a better time then. Is it an age thing? Is it a familiarity thing? Is it me? Is it you?
When I went to see Pond a second time, they completely reinvented themselves with the space themed ‘Man, It Feels Like Space Again’. Thurston Moore a second time offered far more noise than anyone knew what to do with, and the second Low show had them playing personal favourites, and a fresh out of the practise room cover song. Here, they played well, everything was good, great even. It just seems the band’s anger and feverish creativity has grown numb, with the EP ‘Monastic Living’ being the last chance to say ‘fuck it’. That’s what it feels like on record, that’s what it feels like live.
Two years is a long time, really.