Parquet Courts Dunk on Western Mass

Early this month, a mere 15 or so miles north of the Basketball Hall of Fame, another kind of parquet courts were on display. With all the sweat, banter, and fan fervor one would expect from a lively game of b-ball, the boys from the Big Apple turned in a slam dunk of a performance at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, Massachusetts. But before they could take to the court, err stage, opening for Parquet Courts were fellow New Yorkers, Public Practice, who put up an equally impressive set of 70’s inspired no-wave inspired hooks.

Fueled by white flight, social unrest, and systemic corruption, 1970’s New York City had little to boast about aside from one of the most groundbreaking music scenes in the world. The sounds that grew out of the urban blight and political uncertainty went on to influence the likes of DNA, ESG, Liquid Liquid, right on up to contemporary acts such as Public Practice. While perhaps a bit more polished than their predecessors, Public Practice tip their sonic hats to their influences with originality and reverence. As danceable as they are avant-garde the knickerbocker quartet had the capacity crowd pogoing one minute and staring with heads slightly cocked the next. Led by frequent collaborators Sam York (vocals/synth) and Vince McClelland (guitar) the band is touring in support of their latest album Gentle Grip, which conjures a mix of sounds reminiscent of Talking Heads and Blondie but with a 21st Century spin.

As the sold-out crowd swelled in anticipation of the Courts, I sensed a wave of bro-energy emerging behind me as is typical in this setting.

Upon their last visit to Western Mass at the now-defunct Flywheel Arts Collective space, and despite the mention of “arts” and “collective” in the name, the drunk fratboy quotient was high. Managing to avoid any formal fisticuffs that time I was ready for whatever came my way this time around.

With no need of dodging a donnybrook this time around, the “broshing” (bro moshing) was generally kept to an acceptable level where it did not impede on the enjoyment of other concertgoers. Kudos young bros, you are evolving. It’s not that I am at all anti-pit, but when executed by drunk rookies at the expense of the smaller in stature, less agro audience members it really pisses me off. Regardless, Parquet Courts turned in a solid set, which focused on their latest two releases with cuts like “Walking At A Downtown Pace”, “Almost Had to Start a Fight”, “Freebird II”, “Homo Sapien”, “Wide Awake”, also including the classic Silver Apples cover “I Have Known Love”. They also added “Light Up Gold II” to their set with an encore of the classic “Stoned and Starving”.

Their North American tour continues well into the new year so don’t foul out now!

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