Parquet Courts and Gong Gong Gong play the Wonder Ballroom September 25th.
by Kelley McCaffery
On September 25th the transition from street to stairwell of the Wonder Ballroom was punctuated by the blend of an early fall breeze and a buzzing crowd of die-hard Parquet Courts fans. The Tuesday night timing did not deter Portland—the Wonder was packed shoulder-to-shoulder. Like watching an old friend get married, everyone was ready for the honesty and sheer joy the evening promised.
The night began with Gong Gong Gong, a duo from Beijing, China that warmed the venue up with their own brand of plucky post-punk. Bassist Joshua Frank and guitarist Tom Ng brought the perfect blend of syncopation and droning chords to set the stage, reminding older PC listeners of the brazen expression on their 2015 album Monastic Living.
Parquet Courts opened their third tour stop with the kinetic call-and-response cadence of “Total Football” from their latest album. Wide Awake!, their 6th studio installment, was released in May under indie label Rough Trade. The band’s distinct ability to make a song feel like a frantic, addicting pulse is present as always whether it be in the form of a disco breakbeat like the backbone of “Wide Awake” or the driving garage grit of “Normalization.”
The band comprised of Andrew and Max Savage, Sean Yeaton and Austin Brown, who wore emblematic “Mardi Gras Beads” nodded to their steady listenership throughout the show. The jolting head-bobbing helplessness embedded in “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience,” melted away with the lozenge that is “Freebird II,” mirroring the album’s listening experience. The Omnichord then made an appearance as Savage lulled the crowd with an incessant melancholy humming during “Before the Water Gets Too High.”
A cover of the Ramones’ “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” ushered in a wave of Parquet Courts’ greatest hits, electrifying the Wonder. Near the end of the necessary moshing, Andrew Savage and Brown talked the crowd down with the story of “Bodies Made Of,” from their 2014 album Sunbathing Animal. The song, which was apparently written onstage at Portland’s Bunk Bar during one of their first tours, was followed by a ten minute jam session on “One Man No City” from 2016’s Human Performance. The sweaty night ended in one final nostalgic push with their 2013 classic “Light Up Gold II.”
The room, full of old and new Parquet Courts fans alike, chanted for an encore for five minutes before the house lights were switched on. Even in the stark light the crowd held out for the band—staying because Parquet Courts always has a song that feels just right, from a dose of brutal honesty to a perfectly loud basement night.