Saturday, June 21, 2014

Borrowed Time

Midweek club shows are not optimal when you have to get up at 6 a.m. the next day, but sometimes you just have to make an exception. This was the case last Tuesday (6/10) when Parquet Courts and Protomartyr played at TT the Bears in Cambridge. Fortunately, I got a ticket early because it was sold out and packed to the gills. PQ is a hot act right now in indie rock circles and Protomartyr is making some noise as well.

Opening act Sweet John Bloom acquitted themselves well, blasting out a quick set of lively punk rock. Protomartyr actually started up before their announced set time, which never happens. The Detroit band is one of the unlikeliest looking bands around; based on their dark, arty post-punk sound, one would expect them to be a bunch of scrawny, mopey disaffected types. Instead, singer Joe Casey looks like a math teacher, dressed in khakis and oxford shirt, with a bit of a paunch and clearly about a decade older than his bandmates. Bassist Scott Davidson is big and burly with long hair, while guitarist Greg Ahee and drummer Alex Leonard were clean-cut guys who could've passed for many of the audience members in attendance. Looks aside, Protomartyr's a terrific band. Casey's disaffected yowl was difficult to make out over the din created over the act's 40-minute set of tight, short blasts of rock. Bracing stuff. PQ's Sean Yeaton and Austin Brown joined the band for their last two songs. Protomartyr's getting some buzz and is a band worth watching.

Parquet Courts has garnered a fair amount of attention lately: Appearances on the Fallon and Meyers late night shows, comparisons to Pavement and critical raves abound. There's some traces of Pavement in their sound, but I'd say PQ reminds me more of the New York post-punk sound of the late '70s: Television, in particular. The Brooklyn (originally from Denton, Texas) band ripped through a hot set of rock, featuring material from the new Sunbathing Animal album and their previous effort, Light Up Gold. Guitarists Brown and Andrew Savage traded lead vocals, with the latter handling the majority of the songs in the 65-minute set. The band is tight, with guitars clean and locked in for the most part, although there was a long jam late in the set that stood out from the slew of sub-3-minute songs. The band never came out for an encore, even as the majority of the crowd waited for about five minutes for them to return to the stage. Always leave 'em wanting more, I suppose.

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