By RAYMOND ROBLES
Friday, June 7, 2013
Better than: Birthing pangs.
What's it like to witness the death of a band? Its swan song seppuku Silvia Plath shotgun bow-out?
Rad, actually, and the audience was inclined to agree. All four girls of Pang methodically marched their equipment off the stage after a rousing set on Friday, and the announcement that this was their last show. Most wouldn't have it.
"More! More!" demanded drunkard no. 1 (who had previously asked them to "Turn it up," to which rhythm guitarist/vocalist Danielle asked, "Turn what up?" with genuine puzzlement.)
Another, less drunk patron plaintively asked for them to "Make it again," "it" presumably being terse tracks of Oakland dissonance with a sparing amount of well-timed battle cries.
They too won me over with their terse lyrics ("Just relax/Just relax") and punk-disjunct lace dress. Concise packages of music with whirling chord ambiguities and surprise tempo explosions helped considerably. Each song felt as if they had excised a single quatrain from a sonnet and reassembled its ghoulish innards in a Sharpie zine bound in photocopied flannel.
If you're interested in finding out what happens to the souls of Pang, some of their side projects include Puzzled, Mansion, and Dadfag.
I'd imagine Sleater-Kinney would attend a Pang show. I'm not certain who would patronize S.F. locals Cocktails, unfortunately. Of the matronly lady with Toms shoes somehow more unflattering than usual, the uncanny Robert Pattinson clone, the obvious highschoolers, the haughty hairstylist, and the ebullient photography nerds I met at the show, none seemed to have come for Cocktails.
After two songs with lyrics so tedious they couldn't help but rhyme ("Friday, my way," and "There's no blondes in California, I tried to warn ya") I realized I wasn't even being treated to a four-chord progression. Three, perhaps?
The dopey timbre of Elvis Costello fit ill on the lead vocalist, turning his lesbian-doppleganger-of-Justin-Bieber haircut into yet another reason to resent his lyrics. Incidentally, it was his birthday. Narratives of the sort one would find on an exceptionally shallow Twitter felt so at odds with his tequila-colored guitar. It wasn't even until the last 18 seconds of their last song that I noticed the tinny simple saw keyboard accompaniment.
To their credit, they committed no visible technical errors. Their musicianship never flagged, nor were their levels obviously askew.
Parquet Courts opened with a roar. Within just minutes of their frenetic fretwork, sweat pooling on the stage seemed to threaten their balance. They maintained it admirably.
Though not immediately clear to the casual headbanging perusal, songwriters Austin Savage and Andrew Brown don't just do a fair job at crafting an indie/post-punk amalgam of mid-era Pavement and Velvet Underground they actually write lyrics with the pre-adulthood snark of Lena Dunham.
Flavor that with a bushel of indica references and the nouveau youth disenfranchisement more evocative of a curt phonecall to the Employment Development Department than a rally against Margaret Thatcher. Yeah, that taste. Everyone from the hairstylist to the photography nerds gobbled it up with a persistent mano cornuto.
All the while, I wished we could harness Parquet Courts' relentless energy to resurrect Pang.