Parquet Courts went from relative obscurity to a buzz band of the moment during 2013, a transition that can all too often become the kiss of death for many who fail to come up with the goods under such scrutiny.
But the success of debut album ‘Light Up Gold’ – especially after it was re-released by acclaimed indie label What’s Your Rupture? – has created a certain anticipation when the Brooklyn four-piece come to town.
Manchester’s 900-capacity Academy 2 is the perfect sort of venue to host a doubleheader that also includes Leeds-based noise merchants Eagulls. It is a sort of no frills space, but one that ensures every shimmer of distorted reverb will rock its foundations thanks to the monstrous rigs found each side of the stage.
Having themselves been on the receiving end of wholly positive press in recent months and a favourite with BBC 6Music stalwart Steve Lamacq, Eagulls create a racket that is enthralling and engaging, with a raw power that any young rock ‘n’ rollers in the UK would do well to take note of.
Parquet Courts arrive on stage and bassist Sean Yeaton immediately jokes that he doesn’t know what city they are in – before some football-related on-stage chat confirms he is actually fully aware.
It’s a slightly reserved start to the set given that the Brooklyn quartet chooses to kick off with ‘She’s Rolling’ – one of the slowest numbers in their repertoire.
Although the opener and arguably the following track ‘Bodies Made of’ do not showcase the raucous punk sound that they have become most closely associated with, the audience members towards the front of the venue are already bouncing.
And things only escalate when Parquet Courts launch into the angular indie of songs like ‘Master of My Craft’ and ‘Borrowed Time. In the blink of an eye plastic pint pots are flying back and forth and dozens of the band’s most avid fans can be seen being catapulted around a frenzied circle pit.
The standard four-piece set-up is given a slight twist by the fact that Keaton takes centre stage, with interchangeable singers and guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown either side of him – something that creates double the energy and occasionally feels like an onslaught as the pair simultaneously sneer down at the front rows.
Without doubt at their best when they go heavier, favourites like ‘Stoned and Starving’ and ‘You’ve Got Me Wondering Now’ crank up the atmosphere yet another gear. By now security guards are attempting pull crowd-surfers from the ruckus at every opportunity. There’s a feeling that if their current trajectory continues, it will be a while before these excitable gig-goers get another chance to see Parquet Courts in a venue of this size.
The set finishes in a completely different manner to which it began with ferocious renditions on ‘Light Up Gold’ and ‘Sunbathin’ Animal’. They snarl, spit and bark their way through the final number in a way that echos New York punk legends like The Ramones and also conjures more recent memories of the excitement that was spawned by earlier Strokes material.
Anyone pining for the days when the top 40 was littered with guitar bands a few years ago needs only take the example of Parquet Courts as a demonstration that digging a bit deeper can lead to some truly great rewards.