Vancouver veterans Defektors opened to a sparse audience. Their sound saluted Emergency Room-era garage punk — heavy drum, endurance guitar riffs, blown-out vocals — but it lacked the Defektors zeal. Their set was too tight. In an empty venue, the expansive sound seemed awkward. They attracted some fans to the floor, who showed love with head bobbing, foot tapping, and the occasional camera photo. By the end of the set more people had trickled in, and the energy was higher. While Defektors have no doubt earned this stage, 9pm was perhaps a cruel slot to give them.
The atmosphere transformed for Dumb, with people preemptively crowding the floor in support. It was Dumb’s first performance on a stage this size, and it was christened with screaming friends.
Surrounded by a generous crowd, and positioned squarely behind their moshing fan base, it was impossible not to dance. Dumb played most of the songs off their new album, Beach Church, a set of upbeat, punk songs with hints of surf. Dumb’s performance was over-enthusiastic at times, but assertive. Vocalist and guitarist ‘Franco Rossino’ led confidently, and drummer ‘Pistol Pip’ didn’t miss a beat.
When Brooklyn-based Parquet Courts took the stage, the audience was electrified. The band came out strong, and stayed that way. They played all the favourites from Light Up Gold, Sunbathing Animal, and Monastic Living as well as some newer songs from their upcoming album, Human Performance. The crisp and commanding vocals of Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, over PC’s characteristically skittish guitar and drum beats kept the audience moving.
“Bodies Made Of” was especially hot. There was not one, but three crowd surfers being torn apart above the dance floor to the lyrics, “Bodies made of sparks and dust / Slumped and prone to lore and lust.” But the visceral sex appeal of their lyrics and melodies were noticeably absent in their newer songs, which had a tamer and cooler quality to them.
Parquet Courts were dressed dapper and scholarly in button up shirts and pullover sweaters, as if they had just read a David Foster Wallace essay and sipped espresso in the green room. It was perhaps too classy for the mayhem of the Rickshaw, which featured classic can-tossing neanderthals and a smelly, sticky dance floor.
While beer tossing is not justified, the action of throwing a can into a crowd like a tantruming toddler is definitely worthy of pause. Vancouver, are you so bored with bands that spraying yourselves with beer and using musicians as target practice is the only way you can enjoy yourselves at live shows? You certainly give that impression. But honestly, if you’re growing tired of watching bands play the same guitar-heavy, post-punk sound, I empathize with you.
A couple songs before the end, Brown said with a stone face, “I hope you like it, cuz that’s all you’re gonna get.” Parquet Courts left the stage with barely a goodbye, and gave no encore. Bassist Sean Yeaton tossed a sunflower into the audience that was tossed back on stage. But with a set that drew on slightly too long, and an impatient and rowdy crowd, nobody questioned it. The gluttonous audience got what it came for — they chewed up Parquet Courts, and spat them back out.