Parquet Courts stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday. As the episode’s musical guest, the Brooklyn post-punk band debuted “Watching Strangers Smile,” a B-side recorded during the sessions for their recent album, Sympathy for Life, that was previously only available in Japan.
While Parquet Courts have always been known for their ferocious live performances, it’s something else to see it from the perspective of a camera — especially on daytime TV. Their Ellen performance especially spotlights vocalist Andrew Savage, who looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel as he howls each word; we immensely respect his choice to not go easy on the casual daytime TV watchers. Watch Parquet Courts perform “Watching Strangers Smile” below.
As Savage revealed in a statement, the performance echoes the recording process for the track. “Interestingly enough, this song is the B-side to the ‘Black Widow Spider’ single, which was released only in Japan via Big Love Records,” he said. “The music was recorded during the sessions for Sympathy for Life, but it was left unfinished. I recorded the vocals on my own to sort of keep from going stir crazy that first lockdown summer. Apologies to my neighbors for the long afternoon spent screaming these vocals in my bedroom.”
Sympathy for Life, which was Parquet Courts’ follow-up to 2018’s Wide Awake!, included the lead single “Walking at a Downtown Pace,” which happened to be one of Barack Obama’s favorite songs of 2021. Parquet Courts are one of the last-ever musical guests to appear on Ellen; the long-running talk show will come to an end this year after 19 seasons.