Parquet Courts @ Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool 15 June 2016

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parquet courts

New Album Human Performance  Out Now.

Traipsing round the L3 district of Liverpool looking for anything resembling a place a band might play, one starts to wonder whether the name of Liverpool’s newest music venue is to be taken literally. We’ve already passed Costco and Toys R Us which means we’re well out of town, Google Maps certainly didn’t have a clue and nor did the cluster of bemused gig-goers we encountered trying to pick out the Invisible Wind Factory amid Carlton Street’s many garages and salvage dealers, one of which is guarded by a group of blokes trying to get a barbecue going on a wet Wednesday.

It’s a bugger to get to, to be honest, but once located, the Invisible Wind Factory makes a fine addition to Liverpool’s burgeoning bouquet of music venues. The team behind the Kazimier, which sadly closed down at the end of last year, is involved in this new venture and has kept the theme of taking a shabby-looking abondoned building and giving it a classy, soulful interior with stylish lighting and some superb craft beers on tap. It actually opened in late 2014, but hosts its first gig tonight, with New Yorkers Parquet Courts taking to the stage on the back of recent album Human Performance.

The Invisible Wind Factory actually loses its gig virginity to Housewives, a South London support band who continue the theme of the venue offering something rather different. Producing industrial, cacophonous noise in the vein of Swans, it’s a loud, focused display of angular guitars and clanging percussion, with even a saxophone thrown in at points to add a drone to the experimental din. Attention wanes among the audience at points, but the band are warmly applauded at the end – it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I think most appreciated the craft and effort that went into their show.

Parquet Courts
‘ arrival on stage almost seems to take everyone by surprise, and is greeted by a few whoops and then a respectful silence before ‘One Man No City’ form the new album gets us started. It’s a surprise opener from the band who I thought might go for one of their bouncier, shout-along numbers to kick off with, but its gentle strumming, spoken word lyrics and gradual descent into a wall of noise give a perfect introduction into what to expect tonight. Melody, yes. Thoughtful lyrics, yes, but also plenty of experimentation and general fun.

Recent single ‘Berlin Got Blurry’ follows, but it’s the thrashing of ‘Paraphrased’, complete with Andrew Savage’s strained yelling, that’s the first track to really get the crowd moving. By the time ‘Master of My Craft’ and ‘Borrowed Time’ kick in, everyone’s fully settled into the Courts’ unique blend of New York indie rock and Texan twang.

If bands like Sleaford Mods and British Sea Power are quintessentially British, Parquet Courts are possibly the most American-sounding band right now. Songs like ‘Stoned and Starving’ (surprisingly not played tonight) deal with the information overload of life in urban New York, while the band’s upbringing in the South appears to influence the almost country vibe on the likes of ‘Master of My Craft’. The inspiration from these two very different faces of Uncle Sam comes together triumphantly in everything the band does.

While it’s the short, punchy ones that get the crowd moving and joining in most, perhaps the highlight of the show is ‘Bodies Made Of’, which is a warts-and-all rendition complete with screechy feedback and scratchy fretting. They leave all the entrails in, and that’s what live music is all about in my book.

The one-minute burst of ‘Light Up Gold’ gets fists pumping again as the set nears its end, and ‘Sunbathing Animal’ finishes things off. Nobody quite knows what to do as the band belt this one out – you can’t exactly dance to its single-note riff or sing along to Savage’s furious rambling – so most just jump about and nod their heads, which works pretty well.

It’s an excellent christening for the new venue, and the band brought a refreshingly local vibe to it as well, with some friendly banter about Oasis and The Beatles being from the same city, and even bits of Beatles songs being performed in their own inimitable style. I appreciate it when bands make some effort to make a gig unique and not just another stop on their tour.

I’m sure I’ll see many more gigs here over the years, but Parquet Courts got things off to a flyer tonight.

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