Parks - Live At Stealth
On a dark, unusually warm but drizzly night, one subculture reporter took time out from an evening of otherwise good food and fine wine to do one of the things he knows best, watch a live gig. The colloquially popular stealth in Nottingham was the venue of choice. The band, Parks, a four piece who are undeniably one of the most talented set of young musicians to be seen in a good while.
I would like to start from a few moments before the gig if I may (and write in the first person…a rare treat for us chaps putting Perry to paper). With the last drops of perspiration trickling down my face, assuming I had missed the opening song, I fought to catch my breath as I stated my name for guest list (A tidy perk might I add). Turning to my left, the drummer (Zach) from the band stands, munching a packet of crisps. Have I missed them? Are these post gig treats he be eating? Nope, they were pre gig treats, with post gig devourables stocked in his bag. I was early! Hoorah! Now the reason I am mentioning these events is I just want to state what a lovely bunch these guys are. Out of the bag and into my hand, an ice-cold beer. Some would see this as a ploy, but no, just genuine kindness. On talking to the rest of the guys before, it was clear to see that they were all extremely personal, chirpy and brimming with passion for what they do. Nothing worse than a great band who turn out to be self-important. Personality praise complete, onto the music!
Literally kicking off in spectacular fashion, a few hard heavy stomps on the bass drum induces anticipation in the eagerly waiting crowd. Utilising the drum in such a way, or to pick this track as the opening is a clever move. It creates contemplation as to where this track will lead, which, to the pleasant surprise for many, is interjected by stylised vocal slurs. One thing to mention at this point is that the reason Parks grip you from the off is their clever use of breaks and constant tempo changes. This is no Disney story, where you can tell exactly what will happen from the off. They are a surprising bunch, comprising of off kilter rudiments, crystal clear harmonies and smashing riffs. If you can think of your more intelligent stand up comedian, where they build up a series of complexities, each held aloft as an individual elements throughout, then tying them all up into one neat little package at the end, this is how this band structure. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is formulaic however, because just as you think you are safe amidst the sunny lead plucks, they always seem to throw in a string of surprising elements.
Another rarity found is their absolute feel for the music. This isn’t soul, but they have it in bounds. Sharing vocal duties throughout, they each believe everything they sing. What a different this makes. This helps listeners connect on another level to the music, helping them adhere thoroughly with its true meaning. To emphasise this, a lush Harmonica floats above the third track, “Somewhere, Sometime”. A song so tight that by using this gives it a certain lucidity, softening the whole experience.
By far the stand out song of the evening goes to “Just Because”, an amalgamation of three tracks. Interspersing breaks from the lead interject here and there before they throw each instrument into the cauldron in perfect synchronisation. There are easy tempo changes, choreographed to pin point accuracy, indicating the merging of one song to the next. This is subtle, but a clever decision. They want it to flow, but also allow the audience the realisation three workings have been moulded into one. With vocals flowing from each member, the end is refined to one voice. As reverbed twangs filter in, there is a hard-hitting key change to a mammoth unified guitar ending. In a word, Yum!
So, what can I say about the whole shabang? Well, for starters, these chaps are extremely skilled musicians. The real art of any creative individual or group is to appear effortless, that is the real skill. Parks have this up to their eyeballs. What you don’t see behind closed doors stays there…What you see on stage will linger with you for days to come.
With many thanks to seasoned band photographer Dave Goodwin.