By Karina Espinosa
15 February 2018
VANCOUVER – There are some musicians who sound best in a live setting, and Thurston Moore is a shining example of this feat. To hear him perform in person is to experience a master class in rock. Co-headlining with Parquet Courts, Moore and his all-star backing band—including former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine bassist Deb Googe, and guitarist James Sedwards—played a sold-out show at the Imperial on Friday night.
Moore walked on the stage wordlessly before unleashing the first number, “Cease Fire.” It was the kind of song his fans could expect, one with a soft intro until it bursts with grunge rock vigour. Off of Rock n Roll Consciousness, Moore’s latest album, the band’s performance of “Turn On” highlighted Moore and Shelley’s fantastic chemistry. Moore sang in his laconic style and fiddled with various knobs on his guitar.
Meanwhile Shelley stunned with his precise and controlled drumming. Most of the songs (like the one mentioned above) were structured in a similar fashion: after playing the main part, the band would drift into a noisy interval before entering a tunnel of shrieking, esoteric feedback. A few people in the audience, unaccustomed to Moore’s drawn out riffs, grew restless by the end. But overall, the crowd was enthusiastic and in awe of the indie rock veteran.
Once Parquet Courts took the stage, it was an entirely different beast. The band was more animated compared to the cool and composed Moore, and the crowd responded in turn. As soon as A. Savage barked the first few lyrics of “Ducking and Dodging,” raucous beer-throwing, moshing, and a succession of brief crowd-surfing attempts ensued. At one point a brazen fan jumped on stage to hype up the audience, only to be quickly chased off by security. “If you’re going to get on this stage, get back the fuck off,” guitarist Austin Brown quipped.
Audience antics aside, the band gave their cleanest performance during a chain of three Light Up Gold tracks: “Master of My Craft,” “Borrowed Time” and “Careers in Combat.” Resonances of slacker rock group Pavement were evident, especially in Brown’s ironic delivery of his lyrics. But more than anything, the songs revealed the irreverence and speed of punk rock outfits like the Minutemen or even the Dead Milkmen. Never the type to conform to one sound, Parquet Courts switched gears midway through the set to play more measured jams. This included the slow-burning “One Man No City,” which descended into a hazy, post-punk delirium. Capping off the night was the sprawling “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”—a nice nod to the band’s co-headliner and noise rock predecessor.
Imperial, Parquet Courts, Thurston Moore