While the New York holiday hell of SantaCon jingled drunkenly through the streets, music ruled the night inside the grand Hammerstein Ballroom.
“Don’t worry,” Parquet Courts guitarist and singer Andrew Savage shouts after the first song. “None of those Santas can get you from in here.” The New York-based band knows their city well. They could tell their hometown fans needed respite safe from the binge-drinking fueled, red suit-wearing holiday pandemonium outside.
The night started off with the magical Sun Ra Arkestra. The cosmic big band took the stage in sequined capes and hats to perform music that’s been from the future since the ‘50s. Their cosmic jazz and uplifting vibes made the 2k-plus capacity venue feel like a planet distant from earth. Started by the late Sun Ra in the 1950s, the Arkestra has grown and magnified its otherworldly ways. Most of the musicians are senior citizens, but age didn’t keep them from doing flips on stage and creating a contagious conga line that marched right into the audience.
Philosopher, poet, actor, author and tour guide Timothy Levitch introduced Parquet Courts and spoke poetically about New York City and the dinosaurs that once roamed its lands. He didn’t shy away from the grittiness of the city and all its faults, but still celebrated the beauty of the city’s history and geography.
After Levitch, Parquet Courts stormed the stage and immediately kicked off the rock ‘n’ roll portion of the night with “Total Football.” The raging track from their most recent album Wide Awake! instantly sent a wave of chaos through the crowd. Bodies started bouncing up and down and hands went up in the air while mouths opened in song.
Parquet Court fans are dedicated to the music. Even when the band grooved on a slow number fans were still being tossed into the air and crowd surfing.
As they played hits like “Wide Awake,” “Freebird II” and “Tenderness,” a groovy light show projected their shadows on a large screen behind them adding yet another artistic component to this already captivating display of creativity.
Parquet Courts never does encores. When they were done, they were done. They waved goodbye, and though the crowd cheered for more, the house lights went on and everything was over just like that, as if everyone suddenly woke from a colorful dream.
The party raged on down the street at a local tiki bar where musicians and friends shared tequila shots, dances and laughs. The true end of the night didn’t come until the bartender shouted for last call.
The night was jam packed with so much creativity, music and good times it was like SantaCon hadn’t even sligthly arose such a clatter on the city streets only moments earlier.