New York garage rockers Parquet Courts recently dropped their sixth studio album, Wide Awake!. Coming on the heels of Milano, last year’s collaborative effort with composer Daniele Luppi, the new album is 13 tracks of righteous anger delivered with a joyous vigor. Produced by Danger Mouse, Wide Awake! mixes punk and funk influences into a broad sonic canvas that has been collecting an impressive amount of critical praise. In support of the album, Parquet Courts have embarked on a Spring Headline tour of North America before heading overseas for some European dates and assorted festivals. We managed to catch the tour at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro North Carolina as the first leg was winding down.
Opening the evening and charged with stirring the Wednesday night crowd fell to London-based all-female quartet Goat Girl. The foursome of early twentysomethings played through a compact set of politically charged DIY post-punk songs culled from their newly released self-titled debut album. Despite the relative lack of between song banter, the band still connected with the audience through their scrappy understated performance. But it was their genre defying songs mixing psychedelic garage rock with dashes of goth, rockabilly, and punk spirit that truly resonated with the crowd. Goat Girl showed the Cradle why they have been garnering a wave of well-deserved praise back in the UK, and why they were handpicked to support The Fall at their last ever London show.
After a short break, Parquet Courts took the stage to a rowdy and ready reception from the crowd and dove into the raucous punk of “Total Football,” the opening track from Wide Awake!. The song ended with the everyone on stage and in the crowd screaming and singing in unison the final punctuation of “And Fuck! Tom! Brady!” The shared cathartic release created a bond between the band and audience and set an “us against the world” mood that carried on throughout the evening. A churning take on “Dust” from Human Performance followed with bassist Sean Yeaton at the front of the stage swinging his head from side to side in time to the thundering bass lines he delivered. Keeping the momentum, they swung back to Wide Awake! for the punky garage rock guitar-laced “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience.” The rest of the setlist focused on Wide Awake! with a handful of songs from across their catalog sprinkled in. The band was a tight unit with singer/guitarists A. Savage and Austin Brown trading vocals and guitar licks at each corner of the stage with bassist Sean Yeaton roaming in the middle as Max Savage drove the proceedings from behind the drum kit. The audience was with the band every step of the way as mosh pits spun up and sputtered out like mini crowd-spawned tornados. There was even the odd crowd surfer or two making their way to the stage throughout the show.
Parquet Courts managed to mix politics with anger, joy, and humor in a surreal blend of sounds that channeled punk, post-punk, power-pop, and funk with guitar driven garage rock. Rather than being a jarring patchwork of influences, everything fit together and the results were mesmerizing.