I have never seen The Wardrobe, in Leeds, as full as it was for the arrival of Parquet Courts. In my opinion they are one of the most credible and addictive bands around, therefore it was surprising for them to be playing one of the city’s medium sized venues as I would imagine they could have filled the O2 Academy. Regardless of this it was a real treat to see them in a more intimate setting and the capacity crowd loved every minute of their performance.
Before the main event London based Housewives entertained us with something a little out of the ordinary. As the venue descended into complete darkness the band arrived on stage lit by just a single strobe light, on a slow setting. This artistic and ingenious approach added an extra air of mystique as you could only see what the band were doing for one out of every five seconds. Musically they reminded me of an even grittier and stripped back version of The Fall with elements of Swans, purposefully shambolic and repetitive, seemingly creating noise mainly for their own enjoyment. In the same way that comedian Stewart Lee says he tries to filter out his own audience, they seemed to be doing something similar and if you didn’t like it or get it then the fault lays with you for not being on their level. Initially it was hard to love but once you allowed yourself to embrace it then it became a joy to behold.
It was then the turn of Parquet Courts to carry on this level of credibility and artistry set by Housewives. They opened with “Outside” and had the audience hooked from then on. Over the course of the twenty tracks they played they rolled out the majority of their latest album ‘Human Performance’, with some treats from previous albums dotted in and around. After a couple of openers to loosen everyone up they broke into “Paraphrased”, directly followed by “Berlin Got Blurry”, to pick the pace up a notch. One of the advantages of having a live feel to your recordings is that when you perform them in public the difference should be minimal, this was certainly the case with Parquet Courts. Both sets of vocals were excellent and sounded identical to the album versions. The wandering nature of the bass lines was also more noticeable and engaging. They did indulge in some referendum banter with the crowd but for the most part tracks seamlessly rolled into one another, the first big audience reaction came from “Master of My Craft” merging straight into “Borrowed Time”.
Parquet Courts showed that they are far from one dimensional, a criticism often levelled at them, with a perfectly structured set designed to build the tension and atmosphere before a rousing finish. As they travelled through the set they regularly and incrementally upped the tempo before dropping it down again, teasing the eager fans before an emphatic closing section, which included “Light Up Gold II” and “Sunbathing Animal”. They departed the stage not to be seen again, the attendees where left worked up and excitable and when their frantic pleas for an encore went unrewarded I felt there was potential for a riot the break out.