Parquet Courts played their new LP ‘Sympathy for Life’ in Brooklyn (review, setlist, video)
"This record has been done for so long. There were times I thought this album was NEVER gonna come out," a relieved Austin Brown told a packed house at Music Hall of Williamsburg. "But here we are now!" This was the release show for Parquet Courts' terrific seventh album, Sympathy for Life which, if the pandemic hadn't happened, probably would've been out this time last year. It finds the NYC band experimenting with danceable rhythms and electronics more than ever before. It's new territory for them and it was definitely new territory at this show, as the whole album was played -- not in order -- including the debuts of most of the rhythm-forward songs on the album. You could tell some of those tracks, like the Talking Heads-y "Marathon of Anger," hadn't quite found it's groove yet. Others though, like "Plant Life" (very Happy Mondays), the funky, Afrobeat-y "Zoom Out" and the title track worked great and had the crowd bouncing. It will be interesting to hear where these songs go by the time of their 2022 tour.
The rock songs on Sympathy for Life were all good to go, though. "Walking at a Downtown Pace," which opened the night and is about being back in a vibrant urban environment, was the perfect, joyous way to start the show. Parquet Courts sprinkled in favorites among new rippers like "Black Widow Spider" and "Homo Sapien" which the crowd clearly new well. We got "Dust," the Wide Awake! one-two punch of "Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience" and "Freebird II," plus "Light Up Gold II," "Stoned and Starving" and more. (No "Master of My Craft"/"Borrowed Time" though.) The highlight of the show for me, though, was new song "Pulcinella" which ended the night (and ends the album), and is an affecting love song that spirals through a few ragged, Pavement-y guitar noodles and ends with the lines "'Darling it’s me,' as the mask comes off / 'It always was.'" It was a collective sigh of relief.
Keeping with the dancey vibes of the night, legendary NYC DJ Justin Strauss was the night's opener. You can check out Parquet Courts' MHOW setlist and watch video of "Pulcinella," "Sympathy for Life," "Marathon of Anger," "Trullo" and "Zoom Out" -- all of which made their live debut last night -- and check out a few instrams from the show, below.
More: read our interview with Parquet Courts bassist Sean Yeaton about embracing dance music and more; and read our review of Sympathy for Life.
You can pick up Sympathy for Life on vinyl in the BV shop.
SETLIST: Parquet Courts @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 10/22/2021
Walking At A Downtown Pace
Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience
Marathon of Anger (Live debut)
Sympathy for Life (Live debut)
Black Widow Spider
Light Up Gold II
Trullo (Live debut)
Mardi Gras Beads
Zoom Out (Live debut)
Application/Apparatus (Live debut)
Stoned and Starving
Pulcinella (Live debut)