Live Review: Parquet Courts with SSDD at Neumos 2/23/16

Live Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra
all photos by Brittany Feenstra

"Sweep" - that's the command that Parquet Courts give us over and over again on their new single "Dust". In the context of the tune, it's about the dust that accumulates, sitting on everything that doesn't move, marking the time we've spent without motion, watching the wheels go round. The irony of the matter is, if there's one band on the scene right now that hasn't stopped once to let the dust settle, its this New York punk quartet. Just over five years on the scene, Parquet Courts are about to give us their fifth studio album (in between which there have been a number of EPs and singles), and hardly a note has passed that isn't worth listening to. The band continues to charge forward relentlessly into a self-defined future. In the meantime, they somehow continue to find time to tour and blow our minds on the stage. Here tonight at a sold-out Neumos gig with SSDD opening, Parquet Courts teased Human Performance in style.

SSDD (Steal Shit Do Drugs) are some of this city's freshest DIY punk faces. Their debut EP, First Comes Money, dropped just this past summer on Help Yourself. The EP, like much of their live set here tonight, is chock full of unabashed agitation and snarl. Lead singer Kennedy Carda does a fantastic job at looking pissed and possessed at the same time, pacing the stage and screaming every line like its his last. Behind him, the band throws down some quality shenanigans. Carda remarked before jumping into the group's show-stealing last tune that the number was finished only a day or two prior. This being the case, it looks like First Comes Money is only the beginning of what SSDD has to offer, and I think pretty much everyone present at Neumos is now excited for what that may be.


Parquet Courts enter the stage wordlessly. Lights don't go down and the music doesn't drop - it's just a cold open as they find their places and throw straps over shoulders. Sean Yeaton takes a swig of beer out of a collapsing paper cup. Austin Brown walks to the microphone. "So we are here - entertain us", he drawls, keenly aware that 100 million bands have paid unsolicited tribute to Kurt Cobain on this very stage time and time again. "Fuck you!" yells a faceless onlooker from the back. "Yeah", Brown chuckles, "that guy gets it".

And so it goes. Andrew Savage lets fly the opening hook to "No No No" and his brother Max follows on drums. Parquet Courts are off and running and the crowd is already beginning to form a pit. There's no pretense here, no bar to set or surpass - the four piece feels entirely above it. In their meteoric rise to acclaim over the last few years, they haven't once stopped to turn and measure the distance from where they came. It feels like a new Parquet Courts (or Parkay Quarts) release is on the horizon every six months or so, and with each one, the band continues to hone their craft apart from any standard or predetermined course. And if its a flash in a pan, who cares? The four can bust out a twenty song setlist easier than breathing and make it look like a job. It's truly inspirational to see them rip the way they do here tonight.

The set covers fan favorites from Light Up Gold and Sunbathing Animal as well as incorporating five or six cuts from the band's upcoming LP, Human Performance (out April 8 on Rough Trade) including "Dust". Of course, it's only been three months since their last release (the almost LP Monastic Living from November), but with the new material, Parquet Courts definitely feel like they are moving past the raucous jam-centric burnt rubber of "Stoned and Starving", maturing in their songwriting and making use of a wider array of sounds. But this expansion doesn't affect their live energy in the slightest, which still finds itself among the best of the scene's acts. Parquet Courts continue to pound forward in their ongoing blitz, and judging by the energy here tonight, it's hard to see (if ever) where that merciless energy will ever subside.

Parquet Courts:

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