Parquet Courts - Photo by: Ryan McDonald
Photos by: Ryan McDonald

Last night’s sold-out Parquet Courts/White Fence show at Great American Music Hall is the kind of lineup that builds great expectations. And yet, throughout the sometimes plodding, sometimes exciting show, neither band seemed to be able to harness much of the high-level artistry that pushes great bands beyond the acceptable ordinary.

Opener CCR Headcleaner might have come closest despite playing for a room filled to 10% of its capacity. Knowing little about the band before the show (except seeing their name frequently plastered on show flyers across the Bay Area), CCR threw down some serious sludge punk that distanced itself from the rest of the pack by incorporating thrash, garage, and bits of glam rock. For one song, I couldn’t help think that CCR had clearly listened to too much Nirvana in their youth and had decided that it wasn’t heavy enough or weird enough or fucked up enough. Call it dirtbag desperation. Either way, the band started the night off right.

Parquet Courts — the much-acclaimed NYC stoned-and-starving indie rockers — opened their set with a bundle of longer psych jam tracks I wasn’t familiar with. To their credit, the four-piece seemed significantly more confident and excited than when I saw them last year at Hemlock Tavern. Lead singer Andrew Savage, sporting a new-to-me Sideshow Bob haircut, was clearly feeding off the energy of the youthful mosh pit front and center (who wouldn’t?), lending his rambled yelling a more visceral sound than expected. Despite a strong start, the band lost steam in the middle of the set when they settled into a plodding jam sesh for twenty minutes. Everyone was a bit thrown off, as their debut album Light Up Gold is a literal gold mine for miniature post-punk gems and tightly edited. To that end, it took the beginning riff of “Borrowed Time,” Parquet Courts’ best song by a long shot, to jumpstart the crowd again.

Led by lead singer Tim Presley, White Fence took the stage after a short break. By then, a good third of the crowd had already departed — whether from weeknight exhaustion or disinterest, I can’t really say — and the GAMH became a bit sleepy. Before playing a note, Presley joked that he would be moving back to SF because everyone is moving to Los Angeles — most likely referencing Wednesday’s Pitchfork article on John Dwyer and Ty Segall’s recent exodus to LA.

I could be wildly off base here, but for me, White Fence sounded surprisingly like brit-rock on Thursday night with Presley’s voice recalling the Gallagher brothers of Oasis infamy. Musically, White Fence played a solid set of straightforward garage-rock — forgoing the studio trickery of their LPs and becoming a bit more down-to-earth in the process.

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