CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Photos from the last Parts & Labor show, with Oneida and Neptune.
Words by Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor
Seeing Parts & Labor for the first time is like walking into Spanish 101 on the first day of high school: It's confusing, but exciting enough that you don't drop the class. Eventually you learn the language and revel in it. Over 10 years, Parts & Labor created music that was experimental, heavy, and accessible. Many hapless audience members were driven from the room by the first blasts that came out of Dan & BJ's amps, not to mention the merciless drum assault from either Jim, Joel, Christopher or Joe. But for those who stuck around, there were incredibly special, engaging sounds to be heard.
Last Friday, BJ, Dan and Joe played their last show before their indefinite hiatus—Fugazi is still on indefinite hiatus. Besides every member of their revolving drummer's throne joining the band for a few songs, practically every person who has ever played with Parts & Labor, live or in studio, was also on hand to help. Former members stalked the side of the stage with an extra pair of drumsticks playing along to the song, or bounced around in the crowd having just as much fun as anyone else there. The band played 20 songs, weaving their way through every phase of their existence—from their instrumental beginnings, to their pop-noise middle, to their noise-pop conclusion. They ended, appropriately, with "Changing of the Guard," the final song on their Jagjaguwar debut, 2006's Stay Afraid. As the song reached its conclusion, Dan stood at the front of the stage and held the last drone while BJ, Joe, and Christopher smashed the two drum sets and tore down the stage set that had been constructed from moldy panels saved from their first music video.
Parts & Labor's shows always felt intimate. Every show felt like you were seeing a band that was about to be really big, and you were lucky to see them now. Ultimately, they never broke through like many of their Brooklyn peers, but there's no doubt they went out with the same power and energy they had when they started a decade ago.
• Parts & Labor - No Nostalgia