Live review: Parquet Courts, SWG3, Glasgow, Tue 6 Nov
- Craig Angus
- 8 November 2018
Raucous art rock and technicolour stage craft as the Texan punks play their biggest Scottish show to date
'Looking forward to Parquet Courts?', asks Music City's Conor Lumsden of the rapidly filling up SWG3. 'Well tough shit, you're getting us first'. No one's complaining. The Dubliner (last seen in Glasgow with The Number Ones) and his band run through a righteous half-hour set, bookended by two outstanding songs. 'Do I?' struts like The Replacements and while Lumsden claims that he 'couldn't have written the song without all the great music from this city', everything about 'Pretty Feelings' screams 'the best song The Cars never wrote'. Familiarity is only a problem if the songwriting is subpar; Lumsden has no shortage of talent.
Andrew Savage is at work pre-set, carefully placing two bouquets of flowers on the stage, stepping back to make small adjustments to his canvas. It's not insignificant behaviour from the songwriter/visual artist; tonight's Parquet Courts show looks fantastic, the production apparently benefiting from the same attention to detail that Savage's lyric sheets have been blessed with. Technicolour lights flicker in time with the stabs of six string that open 'Total Football', for 'Psycho Structures' the stage is transformed into a sea of ominous crimson, and for the penultimate, mesmerising cacophony of 'One Man No City' four silhouettes (of Savage, drummer brother Max, bassist Sean Yeaton and co-frontman Austin Brown) take turns to flicker in and out of existence on each beat. Stop Making Sense it ain't, but it's a tremendously pleasing in an aesthetic sense, and far from a run of the mill punk show.
This sold out show is the band's biggest Scottish gig to date, largely thanks to the success of sixth album Wide Awake! It's a raucous affair; the kids go wild up front for the album's lead single 'Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience' and for breakthrough second album Light Up Gold's opening trilogy, 'Master of My Craft' into 'Borrowed Time' followed by 'Donuts Only'. Amongst the calm there are exceptional moments too. Sombre climate change meditation 'Before The Water Gets Too High' is introduced with a comment on the American midterms, and 'Tenderness''s stand against nihilism is sung back at Savage with gusto.
Parquet Courts shows in Glasgow have, in recent times, been characterised by some tension between audience and band; smart arse attention seekers in the crowd and frosty musicians looking down. There's no drama tonight, other than a bizarre exchange where Brown's suggestion that Scotland and Texas are similar sees some punters - presumably hung up on a caricature of gun-toting oilmen - boo his home state. Savage later dedicates a song to Willie Nelson, The 13th Floor Elevators and the 1984 Dallas Cowboys (notable for failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade, perhaps this is his way of telling us 'it's the taking part that counts'?). A storming 'Light Up Gold II' wraps things up. No encores, no fucking about. Until the next time, then …