Last Sunday at Elsewhere (599 Johnson Ave) the night opened with high energy post-punk trio B Boys, who happen to be on the indie Greenpoint label Captured Tracks. I’m not necessarily a post-punk fan, and to me the genre can range from fun to straight up annoying. But B Boys actually were able to sound palatable—a bit like a surfy, less grungy Nirvana. And they played the part of anarchist punks with more irony than anarchy, singing lyrics like “every day is a struggle.” At times, they hit garage-y notes, but with a little more polish. They’re the kind of band I’d have seen in college, but minus the angst. So, they won my approval.
B Boys definitely got the crowd amped up for Brooklyn headliners Parquet Courts. The band’s been around long enough to be able to wistfully (and perhaps bitterly) reference the dwindling Brooklyn DIY scene and the Elsewhere owners’ fallen former venue. When the crowd started catapulting their drinks at the stage during the second song, keyboardist Austin Brown quipped, “This isn’t Glasslands, you can’t throw shit.” And being a band born in Brooklyn in the mid-aughts certainly they’re clearly schooled in the art of playing to a house full of intoxicated locals donning flannels, thick-rimmed glasses and vintage Fugazi shirts. But this time, the scene was different. It was Elsewhere.
The brand new Bushwick venue’s got an easy layout and a stylishly artsy Brooklyn vibe. It’s clear the owners knew what they were doing and made conscious design choices by putting the bathrooms upstairs and easily accessible, while using almost the entire rear wall of the hall for the bar. On stage, the sculptural back wall of the stage has illuminated panels that change color and rhythm, depending on the music. And the features hearken back to Glasslands, which featured put-together but unsophisticated art installations as over the top stage décor.
This was my first time seeing Parquet Courts and though I know their music and had heard they put on an entertaining live show, I found myself dancing and singing along and actually mildly headbanging (well, as much as a late-30s professional woman can). The kids in the crowd hung out front and center, forming a sweaty and lively mosh pit, which kept expanding outward through the crowd as the band played on. The music and energy was vibrating and infectious.
With their confident and playful sound, at times the band sounded like The Doors or Velvet Underground, if those bands had been born in Bushwick in 2010. And then other times they sounded like a surfy, rocky, very early B52s or Talking Heads. Their influences clearly span genres and decades, yet the sound all comes together in an emotionally-tinted harmony that can only be defined as Parquet Courts. If you have a chance to see them live, I highly recommend it.
It’s worth noting that the band has shunned social media, lacking a Facebook page or a regularly updated Instagram account. “We’ve come this far without it; I don’t see it being a necessity,” Andrew Savage remarked to The Guardian. And you can’t say he’s wrong about that.
Parquet Courts released their fifth studio album Human Performance in 2016, and this year collaborated on MILANO with Daniele Luppi and Karen O; the Luppi-composed album pays tribute to Milan in the 1980s. The band will be wrapping up their live shows this year in Buenos Aires and continuing their North American tour in 2018.