By Rhett Guenthner
Parkay Quarts took the stage at a sold-out DC9 on November 6 as “more of a Parquet Courts cover band,” frontman Andrew Savage described while the smell of fresh bread wafted through the air for some reason.
The difference between Parquet Courts and Parkay Quarts is essentially the lineup. Savage and guitarist Austin Brown are in both groups while the bassist and drummer positions get switched out for Parkay Quarts. The second Parkay Quarts release came out the week following the show, the darker, experimental LP Content Nausea. Featuring covers of The 13th Floor Elevators and Nancy Sinatra, the record is Savage and Brown’s second of the year, following spring’s Sunbathing Animal under the Parquet Courts name. It also shows them continuing further in the direction Animal started. Feedback is used more, as well as periods of repeated rhythms and wild, electronic distortion. Savage also leans even more towards his nearly monotone, Lou Reed-like vocals.
Despite having a whole new record’s worth of material to pull from, they chose to mostly play Sunbathing Animal and Light Up Gold tracks, keeping it light. They launched into a set full of fast, loud songs that had some on the verge of moshing through “Black and White,” “Vienna II,” and “Master of My Craft.” Despite having some gear problems that caused Savage to play a Squier and an ornately designed Telecaster he borrowed from local opener People’s Drug, the whole band was perfect at hitting all the abrupt stops in tracks like “Vienna II” and “Borrowed Time” that last just quite long enough for people to start cheering, only to be cut off by the band continuing.
Instead of saying the usual, “We love you, (insert city name here),” Savage told the crowd that Richmond and Baltimore had been saying some awful things about D.C., but he then reassured the crowd, “you’re not so bad.”
The band did get around to some slower stuff throughout the set. They covered 13th Floor Elevators’ “Slide Machine” and played “Dear Ramona,” which Brown chose to dedicate to “Obama for getting re-elected on Tuesday.” Near the end, they played “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth,” the closing track to Content Nausea, which shows the band in a whole new light. The six-and-a-half-minute track sprawls with a dark, strumming guitar as Savage calmly tells a cryptic story that sounds like a composed retelling of a tense, moody western. Likely as a result of gear problems, Brown was without a slide, so he used an extra pedal for his lead guitar parts. He soon finished his beer and rubbed a sticker off so he could have something a bit less unwieldy for his meticulous plucking. The song builds into a clash of Savage’s vocals and the rest of the band as he repeatedly screams, “It was the uncast shadow/ Of a southern myth.”
Following “Southern Myth,” they chugged out the even-longer “Instant Disassembly” before finishing the show with “Light Up Gold” and “Sunbathing Animal.” No encore. Some people started to cheer to try and get them back quickly, but soon most of the crowd just stood there in the dark waiting to see if the band would come back, but content enough with the set filled with many of their best songs, that it would be perfectly fine to end the show.