Parquet Courts at The Pageant, St. Louis

Arriving at The Pageant in St. Louis, anticipation was in the air for a night of alt rock revelry. The show started with rock band Mdou Moctar, who played an awesome version of American rock with the added influences of their home country, Niger. Classic rock guitar riffs and face-melting solos made up a large portion of their set. It was very refreshing to hear a new take on a genre we have all been familiar with for so long. If you closed your eyes, it almost felt like you were at an Eagles concert, but with an added layer of Nigerien flair. 

The front man of the band, Mahamadou Souleymane, is a Tuareg songwriter (Tuareg is a nomadic tribe from the Sahara desert region of Africa). According to his Wikipedia page, his parents disapproved of him playing electric music, so he built his first guitar by hand, using bicycle cables as strings, which is VERY rock ‘n roll. 

Mdou Moctar also gained popularity via a cellphone and memory card trading network in West Africa… talk about underground.

Anyways, you guys can read the article yourselves, its very interesting. Suffice it to say, it’s both amazing and somehow fitting that a man from a nomadic tribe in Africa is now on an international tour. 

Parquet Courts, an indie band out of Brooklyn, was the main event of the night. The band has a punky/garage rock sound, which is hard to put your finger on. The crowd could not decide if they wanted to dance or mosh… so they ended up doing both. As the band jammed, the crowd got progressively wilder and wilder, and the guys onstage seemed to match their energy. The members of the band took turns singing, with guitarist and singer Andrew Savage belting lyrics especially hard. 

The setlist wavered between heavy jams and more danceable beats, giving all members of the packed audience something to enjoy. The band’s punk rock sound is also in stark contrast to the tenderness of the lyrics for their songs. The night continued and no one in the building was losing steam. The band played songs off their newest album, Sympathy For Life, as well as older favorites from their previous six studio albums. The new music has a more electronic vibe than their past stuff and the crowd seemed to find it easier to dance to. It also felt very improvised, almost like you’re watching a jam band, but without the artists spending an hour working out a single riff. 

It’s clear that the band’s foray into the culture of dance music has proved fruitful.

Once a band gets seven albums in, there’s a lot of pressure to try something new, while still sounding like themselves. Parquet Courts has clearly handled this obligation gracefully with their newest offering. The show is nearly sold out and the diverse crowd of both kids and adults seemed satisfied with the results.

Photography by Sean Rider

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