By DONNA BALANCIA
Parquet Courts gave a Human Performance to hundreds of eager fans in downtown LA the other night.
They played songs off their new album, called Human Performance, and a full set, opening with “What Color is Blood,” “Dear Ramona,” and the upbeat “Master of My Craft.” There was no encore, as most of the room was expecting “Stoned and Starving,” but who needs to do what the fans want, after all?
Maybe that’s part of the New York schtick, but it seemed the passive aggression was met with a lukewarm reception.
The second half of the show featured tracks off the new album, including “Steady on my Mind, “Berlin Got Blurry,” and “Outside.”
The New York-based band took a couple of random jabs at Los Angeles, comparing the two cities on opposite coasts with Austin Brown saying “Hell is a lot like LA, and heaven is like New York,” which was met with catcalls.
Then they doubled down: “Anyone good is in New York, I heard Jesus got a place in Pelham.” The band even wise-cracked: “At least we have water,” a bizarre dig at a population that has no choice in the California water shortage situation.
Like the humor of Donald Trump, Parquet Courts may have taken it a little too far, especially coming on the heels of a listless LA performance and a cancelled Orange County concert that fans there are still smarting from.
The audience members were a group of good sports, moshing and having fun despite the uneven and the oddly slightly passive aggressive performance. There were some points where the band’s energy was compelling but it seemed as if that came a little late in the evening, for the Dead Milkmen-like “Content Nausea,” and “Human Performance,” “Light Up Gold,” and “Sunbathing Animal.”
After his final strum, it sounded like curly headed guitarist-vocalist Andrew Savage removed his guitar and uttered the word “Perfect” under his breath, as he stomped offstage, but we can’t be sure.
But it was clear he was done, for whatever reason.
And while there were a few good photos to be had, nothing would have adequately captured the look on the faces of the audience when after 14 quickie songs, the house lights came up and the recorded music came on.
By the way, are encores actually required?
There was no “You Got Me Wonderin’ Now,” no “Pretty Machines,” or “Black and White,” or “Stoned and Starving,” examples of Parquet Courts songs that — for good or bad — get the band compared to Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers. But whether the band wants to change its style to more serious or not, these are the Parquet Courts’ trademark songs that are loved, and they’re fun. On Saturday night, it all seemed so serious.
“What happened to the encore?” asked one concert-goer. “It’s so weird. There were a few songs I wanted to hear that they didn’t play.”
What’s a band to do? If you change your style they complain. If you play the same songs over and over they complain. Will the cancelled Orange County tickets be refunded to the fans? Stay tuned.
A high note of the evening was the opener, Marbled Eye, a band from Northern California. With a unique sound and cool indie feel these guys could quickly become a headliner. After all, they have the enthusiasm and they were … fun.