So, you may not have listened to Parquet Courts, but you’ve heard about them. It’s the band that your way-too-cool friend who never settled down tells you that you absolutely have to listen to. It’s the band that makes a bunch of best-of lists that you used to pay a lot of attention to, when music was about as important to you as food and drink.
When it comes to critical adoration, and the number of “year’s best” and “decade’s best albums lists the band has made, just go here. It’s head-spinning.
It’s just that you’ve never got around to actually taking the time to listen to Parquet Courts or the solo work of one of the band’s two vocalists, Andrew Savage.
Well, this Wednesday marks your chance. And, let me be the hipster friend who pushes you to buy a ticket for A Savage’s show. He’s opening this year’s Winterruption festival.
Parquet Courts made me care about music again. It’s a band that made me care about a band like I haven’t cared about a band since I was in my 20s. And A Savage’s 2017 solo album, Thawing Dawn, is right up there, too. He’s a lyricist who can combine some of the great philosophers of all time to Dutch soccer strategy and what rock and roll can mean to us. He can rhyme off artistic movements over wailing guitars, or slow down and caress us with sounds that remind you of haunting country murder ballads or feature machine sounds that can make you feel awfully uneasy.
Listening to Savage’s lyrics isn’t about instant gratification; there are no easy metaphors or rock cliches. This is a guy who started off a song with “Functionalism’s a bore, modernism’s a chore, god, how school makes me snore,” a call to how theory and study can strip art of its passion.
He should know; Savage is also an artist of note, and has had his murals featured on New York walls, skateboards and Goose Island beer cans.
In 2021, “Walking at a Downtown Pace,” from the album Sympathy for Life, became my unofficial anthem. After enduring COVID shutdowns, and being forced behind closed doors, how could these words not speak to you?
I’m making plans for the day all of this is through
Seeing my path there, hearing the song I’ll sing
And food that I’ll taste and all the drinks that I’ll consume
Return the smile of an unmasked friend
As we take streets I don’t walk down ’cause I want to avoid
Fighting temptation, walk at a downtown pace
And treasure the crowds that once made me act so annoyed
Sometimes I wonder how long till I’m a face in one?
Parquet Courts is a band that has never come to Edmonton. For bands that don’t play arenas, we’re not an easy tour stop — a detour north is needed off the main touring routes to make an Edmonton show work. But, when A Savage’s show was announced, I was ready to buy my tickets the second they went on-sale. In my Parquet Courts addled mind, tomorrow will be the day when the whole world discovers this band’s work — and all the shows will sell out. I feel like we’re always one day from Parquet Courts mattering to you as much as the band matters to me.
Is this a total fanboy thing to do? Damn straight. Years of being a journalist can make you awfully cynical. You can get to a point where it’s just so darn uncool to love, well, anything. It’s just nice that here’s an artist that can make me… care.
But, thanks to A Savage and his bandmates, a bit of me has rediscovered what it was like to deeply care about going to the record store, to play songs over and over, to listen to albums from start to finish. They reminded me that music is about a much deeper connection than Spotify lists or Apple Music can provide. And, yes, like any good music snob, I am totally judging you if you decide you have better things to do on Wednesday.
A. Savage (Parquet Courts) w/ Jasmyn & Stem Champ
Rocky Mountain Icehouse
Doors 8 p.m.