Archive for Black Cat

Parquet Courts’ Black Cat Show Was Raggedly Sublime

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 8, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Parquet Courts

These days, Parquet Courts face the inverse challenge to what they were dealing with in late 2012, when Light Up Gold put them on the map.  Back then, the question was whether the manic splendor of their live shows could be bottled and served up on vinyl, beer reek intact.  Two albums and an E.P. later, the question last night was whether a young act that has created some of the greatest recorded music of the past two years could have the tonal precision of that sound and those songs translate well live.

Regrets, we have a few, and when queried on our death bed, we know that ranked high among them will be our not having put Sunbathing Animal on the 2014 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List (c).  And that wasn’t even their only album last year!  We must have been birdwatching or something, but somehow we missed the release, late in the year, of Content Nausea, which while not a Parquet Courts album proper — it was essentially a dual album made by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown — revealed a band that in a single year had emerged as a recording act justifying its titular sobriquet as “The Most Interesting Band In America.”  So how would *this* sound translate in a packed Black Cat where Parquet Courts were now headliners?

Andrew Savage’s voice was rubbed raw — he said it was due to an ill-advised karaoke competition.  When it all worked, such as on simpler thrashers like “Ducking And Dodging” and “Borrowed Time,” the skewed and sweaty dive bar ethos rang true, the house rocked, the crowd roared, clouds of sweat were formed.  But songs more dependent on getting the perfect vocal and guitar tone (say, “Black and White”) suffered a bit and brought to mind the irony that this magnificent punk band might best be heard through its studio output.

If Tom Verlaine were the Dalai Lama, and the body of monks were assembled to choose his successor, unquestionably Austin Brown would be the prodigy who would correctly identify his plectrum from a pile of confederates.  Our love of Parquet Courts circa 2015 stems from their having moved from Denton, TX to Brooklyn, NY and, as they gathered chops, decided to channel the sounds of circa 1977 Television on an epic night in the Bowery.  They are so much more than a band offering a derivative of New York at the end of the ’70s — to begin with, few are the artists who place as much energy and emphasis on intelligent lyrics as Andrew Savage does.  That they’ve thoroughly incorporated the Marquee Moon dynamic — not just the guitar work, but the dumb-boy choruses as well — makes us revel in their glory.  And this: hearing a song like “Everyday It Starts” — which on Content Nausea had basically fill-in drums, but last night had the full propulsion of Max Savage living up to his name — makes us realize these guys, when at their best, could give the Entertainment-era Gang Of Four a run for their Bitcoin.

So it wasn’t a perfect show because Andrew Savage wasn’t in the finest vocal fettle, and having seen them in front of 100 people in 2013, we know how amazingly they can play live when the stars are aligned.  And our expectations have been raised by the genius exhibited on their prodigious recorded output.  But if one wanted to confirm or deny whether the Parquet Courts were deserving of being Spin Magazine‘s 2014 Band of The Year?  Yeah, based on last night, totally.

For A Moment Last Night At DC’s Black Cat, Capsula Were The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band In The World

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 24, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Capsula 2

All lifelong aficionados of real rock’n’roll have essentially the same fantasy, which is to see their favorite band play ten feet away.  Some burly mothers regularly achieve this by muscling their way to the front of the crowd and staying there for an hour before the show starts.  Others — including the team at Tulip Frenzy – like a little breathing room, a little distance.  Unless circumstances allow us to get real close without bother.  Last night, alas, the Nation’s Capital did not show up in force to see Capsula open for Brazilian legends Os Mutantes.  But you sure couldn’t have told that from the way Capsula played.  And so we stood there, maybe five feet away, while they put on one of the best shows we’ve seen in the modern epoch.

Capsula, for those who don’t know — and if you don’t, we pity you — are the finest punk rock band to ever emerge from South America, though for the past 13 years they’ve used Bilbao as their locus for world domination.  It’s been paying off, too, as Solar Secrets, their recent album produced by Tony Visconti — fresh from his handling the chores for David Bowie’s The Next Day — has been topping Alternative charts in Europe.  They may be the hardest working band in rock’n’roll these days.  Based on the commitment they showed last night, wherein Martin Guevara and Coni Duchess bounced off one another, and then the ceiling, like those ping pong balls about to be plucked for the Powerball lottery, they may, at moments, also be the single best live band working today.  The drummer — was that Ignacio Villarejo or someone else? — was like a locomotive, minus the smoke, and even when Guevara and Duchess were doing synchronized back flips, the musicianship would have made the Berlin Philharmonic seem like amateurs.

Longtime fans of Tulip Frenzy know we’ve been wild for Capsula for years and years.  Ever since hearing 2006’s Songs & Circuits, we’ve viewed them as some magical combo of the Cramps, the Stooges, and the best ’70s radio pop.  We can’t put it better than… we already have: “Capsula is a throwback to an era of punk rock that may not ever have existed, a remnant of a Platonic world where all songs are played fast, where the drummer keeps an animalistic beat for hours on end, a place where the pogoing guitarist can fill the stage and stage the fills with melody and soul as the girl bassist with the bunny ears rocks harder than Izzy Stradlin. When Songs & Circuits came out five years ago, we could scarcely believe our luck, pinched ourselves to find a modern punk band that played fast and offered steaming parilla of smoking riffs and still poured on melody like it was hot sauce.”

We still feel that way, even as we would rank Solar Secrets a half-notch below both Songs & Circuits and 2011’s In The Land Of The Silver Souls.  The set list last night was long on new material like “Constellation Freedom,” and a cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” which they played on their Ziggy Stardust homage, with a dip back into the catalogue with songs like “Communication,” their update of the Stooges’ “Penetration.”

Capsula 1

At one point, Guevara hung his guitar from the ceiling and then wrapped his mike around a pipe, singing into it while it dangled above him.  Although on record, they can be very smart classicists, in their first-ever DC concert they showed themselves to be the kind of hams that the Fleshtones can be, willing to do virtually anything to extend that rock’n’roll moment one minute longer, to turn the dials to 11.  There should have have been 1000 people there, not a couple of hundred, but here’s the essential thing to know about Capsula: the set they would have played for that larger crowd wouldn’t have been any different than what they did for us last night.

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