Live in Los Angeles:
August 20, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Words by Dan Sinclair
Pictures by Nicolas Bates
AUGUST 20, 2016-- Deep in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the writer stands outside the former-movie-theater-turned-indie-music-concert-hall waiting on the photographer. A man approaches and asks if the writer could spare an extra "five or six million dollars for a homeless man." Knowing full-well he has not even five or six cents in his pocket to spare anyone, the writer can't help but ponder the question. The man starts to laugh. "Your really thinking about it, aren't you, you son of a bitch?" He then points to the Nike hi-tops on the writer's feet. "What if I can guess exactly where you got those shoes at-- the exact place you got them at-- would that be worth a dollar?" In theory, the writer agrees that information is worth a buck, but in practice, he carries no cash on him. Everything is on plastic cards. "Shame," says the man. "Was gonna say you got them on your feet!" Both he and the writer share a laugh. The man tells the writer to have a good night. The writer sees the photographer walking down Main Street toward him, then turns his head to see "Parquet Courts" on the marquee. "It's Saturday," he says aloud to no one. "Of course it's gonna be a good night."
A human performance at the Regent
As busy as it was on the outside of the Regent Theater, the really interesting stuff was happening on the inside. That's where New York City indie rockers Parquet Courts were about to play before a sold-out crowd. Beer selection is pretty weak in the theater. I order a Lagunitas IPA, but the keg kicks and I have to settle for a Trumer Pils. Admittedly, I'm not a pilsner fan, but it beats a Bud Light any day, so fuck it. A band called Marbled Eye opens the night. Here's what they look like:
Oakland's finest, Marbled Eye
The next thing I remember is bassist Sean Yeaton saying, "Hi," and everyone screaming. He's impressed by the response and wonders, "What kind of questions can I ask that require a scream in response?" After thinking for a few seconds, he comes up with "What do you say when you're afraid?"
Sean Yeaton's bass says hi.
He is joined by drummer Max Savage and co-singer/guitar players Andrew Savage & Austin Brown and they all kick the set off with "Ducking and Dodging." Heads start moving back and forth, some side to side, all somehow in time. It's a beautiful rhythmic, but chaotic dance-- the perfect accompaniment to Parquet Courts' signature sound. Brown smokes a cigarette.
Austin Brown is smokin'!
The band is on tour to promote their latest album Human Performance, and that's the direction they sway towards next with the soothingly simple "Dust." The sea of bopping heads sings out, "Dust is everywhere/Sweep!"
Parquet Courts from the jumping pit's point of view
The screams grow at the recognition of the opening guitar riff for "Paraphrased," and it's during this song, the writer starts to really appreciate Andrew Savage's passionate performance while manning the front. He seems to be putting everything he's got into belting out the vocals, getting angrier every time the song gets louder. His energy continues through "I Was Just Here," a song Yeaton describes as "Very appropriate."
The passionate vocals of Mr. Andrew Savage
But every yin must have its yang, and for every single ounce of enthusiasm that Savage poured out, Austin Brown matched with complete relaxation when he took the lead on the much mellower "One Man, No City." In all fairness, Brown's energy was most likely all exerted into looking like Beck's long-lost twin brother.
You see it, right?
But things start moving again when Savage takes the lead again for "Pathos Prairie." A small group even forms a little "jumping pit" near the stage. It's not quite a mosh pit as they are hopping up and down with smiles on their faces, only lightly bumping into one another. Brown follows that up with "Captive of the Sun."
The steady rhythm section of Max Savage and Sean Yeaton
Eventually, Yeaton asks, "Los Angeles, should I move here?" The crowd seems to think he should, but Brown isn't too sure. "You see, where I'm from, we have things like water." The crowd boos for the first time, but Brown can't figure out why. "Water's not that important, right? It only makes up 80% percent of us." Then straying from Human Performance, Parquet Courts ventures back to 2014's Sunbathing Animals with "What Color Is Blood?" and "Dear Ramona."
Afterwards, Brown explains, "That last song about a girl was really about me, and this next song about me is really about a girl." That song is "Master of My Craft," which launches directly into fellow Light Up Gold songs "Borrowed Time" and "Yr No Stoner." They keep on playing and the kids keep dancing. At one point, their little jumping pit, actually opens up into an actual mosh pit, albeit one of the friendliest ones I've seen.
At one point, Savage apologizes to anyone who tried to make it out to the Santa Ana show. Apparently he hit his head, had seizures and had to cancel. Luckily, this writer was at a PJ Harvey with the lovely Ms. Hernandez that night. If he had to drive all the way to Santa Ana only to find out... oh, fuck it, never happened, so who cares, right?
Eventually, Parquet Courts gets back to their latest record playing a few of my personal favorites in "Berlin Got Blurry," "Outside" and the title track "Human Performance." Yeaton never stops swaying his head back and forth rapidly during any song for too long and the otherwise quiet drummer Max Savage doesn't miss a beat. Some asshole starts spraying Silly String in the crowd and I'm sure I'm not the only that hopes he fucking chokes on it.
The set closes out with a loud all-out rendition of "Light Up Gold II," complete with long Sonic Youth-esque feedback solos at the end, then the fellas thank everyone and disappear. The crowd cheers for an encore but the Regent lights come on. Parquet Courts did, after all, play about 20 songs, so really, no encore was needed.
This human performance made it a good night, indeed.
For more info on Parquet Courts, take thee ass to ParquetCourts.wordpress.com
For more of Nicolas Bates' Photography, check out BatesImaging.com