Live Review: Pinegrove + support (Nottingham, 03/10/16)

At the beginning of this year, American indie rock band Pinegrove released Cardinal. It was put out on Run For Cover records after the band signed to them in late 2015. The snowballing support for Pinegrove hasn’t just seen them gain thousands of Facebook likes, but has translated into almost tangible energy at live shows. Through September and October, the band from New Jersey toured Europe, beginning and finishing in the UK, to packed out rooms. This is homegrown, heartfelt music at its finest.

On the matter of homegrown, it’s Nottingham’s own Taco Hell that begin the evening. Having just released their debut EP Breathe Deeply (on cassette, would you believe), they’re the perfect example of a band picking up momentum week on week. Quite literally, in fact: one week they’re sharing a stage with Dowsing, the next it’s Pinegrove, and to follow it’s Pity Sex. It would seem the highlights never end for this feisty, tell-it-as-it-is foursome. 

Frontman Evan Stephens Hall welcomes the audience with a brief introduction to break the ice, before slipping smoothly into the set. From the off Pinegrove appear to feel right at home, with striking, well-executed song interspersed with Hall’s easy rapport with the crowd. For the most part the show is flowing and easy going, a joke from Hall somehow setting the mood: “we do what we want, what our bodies want, what the crowd wants.”

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the set is dedicated to tracks from Cardinal, but a few golden oldies sneak in. Most noteworthy of these is”The  Metronome”, from 2015’s Everything So Far. The slow build up; the almost deadpan delivery of “look me in the eye / be practical”; the more colourful explosions that decorate the close of the song – this song exemplified the set.

There’s a mood, a certain intensity to Pinegrove’s show. This focus pulls you in, a half thought attention to every nuance that strikes balance between absolute deliberation and total ease. Everything seems in control, with none of the forcefulness that can mar a set. It’s a quiet, subtle confidence. It’s this that makes their live show top their recorded sound. The emotions of each track extend into the mood of the song, meaning it’s less exhibited and more experienced.

It’s easy to get sucked into the cascades of music that Pinegrove deliver. In between songs, anecdotes slip out that prove the people on stage are human beings, not just perfect song creators. One of the stories Hall tells is about the endearing phenomena of recognising “like five people” in a city half way across the world that you’ve only been to once. From the mood in the room by the time Pinegrove finished, it won’t be the last time they come to Nottingham.

[Editor’s note: Max who edits SYS is in Taco Hell, but thinks they are just ‘average’.] 

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Libby Mayfield

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