Vive La France !
Ghent, my hometown, is only a 45 minutes drive from Tourcoing. A small northern French town with a superb rock club called ‘Le Grand Mix’. Their programming is just excellent. All cool ‘small & medium sized’ alt artists make a stop in the big mix when touring Europe. And tonight was by far the best offer of the year: The Orwells, Parquet Courts and Palma Violets, all on the same bill. Hey ho, let’s go and cross the border…
The young Chicago garage rock savages are first on. Always a most ungrateful task. The venue is still half empty and those present are queuing at the bar for drinks and chat continuous with their friends as if they meet each other for the first time in years. Gig goers know the situation quite well. Sadly it affects the charismatic and boisterous frontman Mario Cuomo. His demons get a night off and he barely moves. Although the band play a tight solid set, without their leader going beserk as usual it’s half the fun. The Orwells are a bona fide live band but with tonight’s circumstances it was impossible to proof that.
Actually it’s the band’s offshoot crew ‘Parkay Quarts’ tonight. The two PC frontmen Andrew Savage and Austin Brown and the temporary replacements for bass player Yeaton and drummer Max Savage who are on a leave. By now the venue is almost full and you can spot the hardcore PC fans easily: hyperkinetic moving bodies. After a supersonic punk start the Courts slow down for a couple of songs. Mistake ! Inexplicably they repeat this fast/slow scheme. Big mistake ! The crowd calms down. The momentum slips away. And then guitarist Brown makes some stupid remarks because the French crowd is not going apeshit ! Very big mistake ! Don’t blame the fans, Brown. YOU composed the setlist, not the fans. Furthermore, why should there always be blood on the dancefloor? Many enjoyed the perfomance as it was, at least I did. Parquet Courts are one of my fav bands (with ‘Sunbathing Animal’ as one of this year’s best albums) but I hope they don’t spoil that with behaving like people they hate themselves: petulant rock stars ! Anyway, see you next time, cowboys !
Don’t slow down, Parkay Quarts…
Video: Violets going apeshit in my hometown last year…
Two songs in and the first crowdsurfers are heading towards the stage. It’s quite clear now… the spectators saved their furious energy for the British power pop punkers’ live comeback on the European continent. Yes, it seems ages since I saw their gloriously shambolic show in my hometown early last year. A Violets concert is like a soccer game without goalkeepers. Many scores with an euphoric public as a result. So, at last there is blood on the dancefloor tonight (I know, sometimes I’m a cynic) ! The frontmen, bassist Chilli Jesson and guitarist Sam Fryer cross the stage non-stop and interact closely with their admirers. It’s hard to judge the new songs (5 or 6) properly on first hearing. They certainly don’t sound much different then all the sing along anthems we already know from their 2013 debut album with smash hit ‘Best Of Friends’ still as the orgasmic highlight. Frankly we don’t want them to become an experimental jazz combo, do we? Basically they are an immense fun band and that’s fine by me. Palma Violets are definitely back in (live) business and were tonight’s ‘best of bands’.
(All pics: JL)