Review: Parquet Courts Made The Vic Wide Awake

In what many publications are calling one of the year’s best records, Parquet Courts channeled angst into optimism on their fifth full-length album, Wide Awake. Their recent record almost reads like a manifesto for collective, social action — equivocating that the worker to the rebel in the first track, “Total Football” — “power is resembled,” songwriter Andrew Savage sings, “if we are assembled.”

And the masses want to mosh. From the early hits, like “Master of My Craft,” to more recent singles, like the titular track “Wide Awake,” the verbose garage band created room for alleviating out aggression and anxiety at The Vic last Monday.

Political music is rarely delivered with such humor and eloquence, often hitting points too hard on the nose. With the 24-hour news cycle delivering us a barrage of notifications on the White House, Nazis on the street, and the impending crisis of climate change, Parquet Courts, like alchemists, transformed aggression into messages about love and coming together.

Highlights from the concert included not only the revved-up garage rock bangers but also slowing down into reggae and dub grooves. Savage even grabbed the kitsch 1980s instrument, the Omnichord, on “Before the Water Gets Too High,” and the band took us into orbit with the spacey “Back to Earth.” The set’s peak was when they extended “One Man No City” into more than ten minutes of extended noise, creating a crescendo of guitar clangs.

Parquet Courts make punk sound both agitated and artful. With a record filled with both angst over our current political climate and an optimism for change, Parquet Courts cathartically relieved us of existential and political dread through moshing and mouthing along to their brainy brand of rock ‘n’ roll.

Colin S. Smith
Colin S. Smith

Colin Smith thinks that Chicago right now is the place to be for music. He works for Illinois Humanities, is a freelance writer, and plays psychedelic-pop songs with his band.