Live Review

The Men, Parquet Courts, The Garage, London

All five members show an unrelenting energy that the devoted crowd feed off.

Photo: Emma Swann
The Men and Parquet Courts on the same bill, on our shores is a mouth-watering proposition; the kind of modern-day billing that temporarily soothes the lingering jealousy over missing the Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr tour of 1991.

Both bands are hot property, with Parquet Courts currently topping the US buzz band charts, and The Men having recently released their most mature record to date. Together they share the same ability to fire out unhinged and frenzied garage rock. They’re both bands in the truest sense of the word, no egos, just sweaty men giving the hungry audience exactly what they want.

As far as a debut UK gig goes, Parquet Courts’ is a resounding success. The appropriately-named ‘Master Of My Craft’ sees them catapulting to top gear with its frantic delivery and lasting hooks, before they transition in to the already anthemic ‘Borrowed Time’. Performing live, the New Yorkers replicate their ability to segue their two-minute songs in to one seamless piece of post-punk that jolts along, constantly evolving. ‘Stoned And Starving’ gets stretched out, more intense and improvised with Andrew Savage delivering a captivating reprise of ‘Light Up Gold’ over the instrumentals. Over as quickly as it began, it’s clear those smart aleck kids are just as good live as everyone hoped.

The Men showed signs of greater diversity and emotional scope on their latest effort ‘New Moon’. Fear not - they’re still brutally loud live and more than capable of ruining eardrums. Their notorious ‘no one is frontman’ policy serves them well, as all five members show an unrelenting energy that the devoted crowd feed off. The noise is intense and uncompromising. ‘Electric’, ‘Open Your Heart’ and ‘Turn It Around’ provoke a sweat-ridden riot at the front of the stage, while the band doggedly give it their all. At times it almost feels too much, as if the walls are about to collapse and brains explode under the pulverising volumes, but this is when they masterly steer away from the sludgy noise towards their alt-country wanderings. Most rousing of these is the joyous series of ‘la’s in ‘Half Angel Half Light’. The Men do raw, no-thrills rock at its heartfelt best.

Both tonight’s performances better the sky-high expectations that have been set; maybe those names printed on the tickets will go down in folklore and leave a new generation full of envy.

Tags: The Men, Features

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