All The World Is a Stage: Parquet Courts Bring “Human Performance” to Union Transfer

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Parquet Courts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Parquet Courts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Everyone has that one friend who’s really into irony. The kind of guy who moved to Brooklyn to make handcrafted recycled furniture and says “sports” at parties to get an easy laugh. Whenever friends come to visit from out of town, they always ask “What’s the Brooklyn of Philadelphia?” (Fishtown) — I constantly find myself asking, “What’s the Brooklyn of the music world?”The answer, my friends, is Parquet Courts.

Brazenly sardonic, the foursome of Brooklyn-based punks waxed both eloquent and ineloquent on topics myriad on Wednesday night at Union Transfer, bouncing around the stage at warp speed. In support of brand-new record Human Performance, the show found the band in the early stages of a large tour. But it was clear from both the band’s tight-knit synergy and the crowd’s frothing reaction that the Philadelphia stop was anything but a warm-up date.

Parquet Courts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Parquet Courts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Getting down to business with sonically massive Performance track “Dust,” — a track helmed by co-writer/co-frontman Andrew Savage. Both narrative and sonic pilot, Savage guided both the band through the musical steps, and the audience into the dance of lyricism, with them singing along “Dust is everywhere… Sweet.”

Parquet Courts co-soothsayer Austin Brown had taken the stage via crutches, with his right foot in a soft boot. While I was initially concerned that this would limit the band’s ability to bring the ruckus in a way that I was accustomed to, the impairment didn’t harm the set in the least. Spending half of the set resting on a stool, Brown was able to kick out both his signature clean riffs and ribs at crowd members without pause.

By the time the fourth song — Human Performance lead single “Berlin Got Blurry” — kicked off, there was already a circle pit in the front and center. Even though there’s no clear delineation of where exactly Parquet Courts falls, genre-wise, it’s fair to say that punk makes up more than a little bit of their bloodline. They can bring the noise.

Even though the irony can get tiring, the barbs reveal great truths about society and human nature. When I found myself deep in a dead-end desk job last year, the wry “Content Nausea” became my anthem that there was a better way of living. “This would be a good year to free artists from the back-patting rituals of content and comments,” rages Savage. It’s a different breed of punk — one not born of suburban angst, but rather of the dungeons of the angst brought on by modern life.

In their short five-year lifespan, Parquet Courts have lifed life in fast-forward. Releasing two records side-by-side in 2014 was a classic case of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck. Human Performance finds them not necessarily slowing down, but refining; not necessarily maturing, but gleaning from experience and forecasting what’s next. The result is both predictable and not so much. They’re better, but the same. More fired-up, but more well-spoken about it. We’ve all got that one friend in Brooklyn, but no matter how much they make you roll your eyes, you’ve just gotta love ’em. Long live Parquet Courts.

Setlist:

  1. Dust
  2. Paraphrased
  3. I Was Just Here
  4. Berlin Got Blurry
  5. Bodies Made of
  6. Black & White
  7. Vienna II
  8. Master of My Craft
  9. Borrowed Time
  10. Dear Ramona
  11. Stoned and Starving
  12. Sunbathing Animal
  13. Outside
  14. Light Up Gold II
  15. Captive of the Sun
  16. Steady on My Mind
  17. Pathos Prairie
  18. Content Nausea
  19. Psycho Structures
  20. Human Performance
  21. One Man No City

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