Pinegrove - Soundbar, Orlando, Florida - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Pinegrove - Soundbar, Orlando, Florida

by Mark Moody Rating: Release Date:
Pinegrove - Soundbar, Orlando, Florida
Pinegrove - Soundbar, Orlando, Florida

For all of us non-philosophy majors out there, trust me when I say a Monday night in February would be a perfect one to cop a solipsistic mood.  But with Pinegrove in town after nearly three years away it was nothing but peace, love, and understanding between frontman Evan Stephens Hall and a decidedly non-Monday night crowd.  My third time seeing them (and first since 2016), it’s safe to say they weren’t sitting on their asses during their year long hiatus from the public given the level of their performance. 

After a late running soundcheck, the sell-out crowd filed in quickly for Philly based opening act Another Michael.  Philly seems to have become the indie hotbed of late withimg 7560 outfits like Waxahatchee, Japanese Breakfast, and Hop Along all calling it home and Another Michael fits in well with that scene.  Self-described “worry pop” band, the group led by Michael Doherty played to a receptive crowd. 

They pulled many songs from last year’s Land EP including the power pop of ‘About’ with a wash of keys.  Several songs had a jazzier stance including ‘Connect’ and ‘Go There’ which recalled the gentle tone of Carlos Hernandez’s solo stint last year away from Ava Luna.  ‘Football’ had the feel of the schoolyard goings on of early Belle and Sebastian.  But the set highlight came on an older song, ‘The Boulder’, where Doherty nailed his falsetto and guitarist Jacob Crofoot and drummer Glen Kellett provided another jazzy backbone.  Keyboardist/guitarist Alenni Davis added harmonies on many of the songs and bassist Nick Sebastiano further anchored down the group.  The band was a good fit for the positive vibe in the club in spite of all their “worrying”.  Not just another band, look for more from Another Michael.

From the moment Pinegrove took the stage it was apparent this was a team effort from a group at ease with themselves.  Stephens Hall was somewhere in the middle walking out - no star turns in this bunch.  They opened with the older ‘Problems’ and it was apparent there were pockets in the crowd clamoring for songs from different releases, but most of us mainly just happy as heck they were back.  The band seemed to share that sentiment.  Only two songs in they ripped into ‘Cadmium’ off of the Cardinal album, with Stephens Hall singing as much off mic as on and the crowd right there with him.  Co-founder and other constant member Zack Levine proved he is one of the finest drummers in the land and deftly led the band through a 20+ song setlist with different shadings of finesse or fury.

Other touring members included Megan Michelle Bird on bass, Sam Skinner on guitar, and Zack’s brother Nick on guitar/pedal steel.  Tones ranged from the full-throated album opener ‘Rings’ off of last year’s Skylight to the quieter ‘Portal’.  ‘V’ was imbued with a joy not apparent on the recording and the lyric “avoiding the void” may be the img 7750 copyreason that resonated.  The smiles flashed between band members became more apparent as momentum built in the set and Stephens Hall’s banter with the crowd was coming from a man just happy to be here. 

From mid-set when they played the gorgeous title track from Skylight with Levine on brushes and his brother on steel it was a portrait of band locked in with each other and with their fans.  New song ‘Scared to Know’ was a lively one and the following ‘Old Friends’ and ‘Aphasia’ became full on sing-alongs.  Again Stephens Hall was off mic for a good portion of the latter song given the cozy confines of the club and had plenty of friends to help him along. 

The precision of an older song like ‘Visiting’ became apparent as they played with an almost Minutemen-like sense of precision coupled with great power.  The balance of the main set played out like a series of greatest hits from a band that by rights should be too early on to have them - ‘Easy Enough’, the plaintive ‘Light On’, and an all out ‘Angelina’.

During the encore that never had the band leaving the stage, they played a fiery ‘Size of the Moon’ with some of the most obvious harmonies of the night.  Ultimately they closed with ‘New Friends’, which I had never realized was about  going to a club show alone.  Suffice it to say that everyone that showed up this night was certainly not alone in spirit, including all the members of the band.  Early on in their return to public life, the band and Stephens Hall clearly relished the moment of being in the moment.  And perhaps a deeper appreciation for something nearly lost.  A maelstrom of positivity and furious playing made for an unforgettable performance.  Singing about “solipsistic moods’ and ‘sublimating away’ just became something we all did together on a Monday night, not something to be concerned about.

All photo credits:  Christa Joyner Moody (check out more of her live music photo gallery here)

Note:  Pinegrove will be touring through the US, UK and Europe through mid-April.  Not one to miss.  For at least the US shows they have been providing a pre-show bystander intervention workshop for a small group.  I caught the tail end this night and the instructor was imparting good advice and fielding lots of questions of a primarily under 21 crowd.  It struck me as both sad and essential that being civil to each other needs to be discussed, but we all know that it does.  Pinegrove cares - they care a lot.             

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