Pinegrove at The Bowery Ballroom, 04.27.17
w/ Lomelda; Hovvdy
I've been in love with Pinegrove since I first saw them open for Kevin Devine at the Outer Space in 2016. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to check them out as the headliner - and even better, catch their show in NYC at the legendary Bowery Ballroom. This was actually the first of two shows that they ended up playing that weekend - due to popular demand, they played another show in Brooklyn the next day.
The band proudly hails from Montclair, NJ and was founded by frontman vocalist and guitarist Evan Stephens Hall and drummer Zack Levine - and often includes these guys on tour: Nick Levine, Sam Skinner, Nandi Rose Plunkett, David Mitchell, Josh Marre, and Adan Carlo. Their sound is unique - full of passion, thoughtful lyrics, and interesting melodies. It has morphed over the years, from slightly subdued acoustic country/folk sounds to energetic, guitar-heavy layered anthems. In fact, the best part about PInegrove is that they are just SO much fun to see live. Their fan base is incredible - everyone knows all of the lyrics and no one feels shy about jumping around all night. Makes for super fun shows. Besides oozing talent, Evan is endearing and just a genuinely nice guy during shows too - for example, he passed around a snack of carrots and celery to the audience because he was feeling hungry and wanted to share! Pretty funny. You can tell that the entire band loves what they do.
The Bowery Ballroom is located in the Bowery section of Manhattan (at Bowery and Delancey). The company The Bowery Presents does bookings/concert promotion for some of the most notable middle-sized venues, like The Bowery Ballroom, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Mercury Lounge, Terminal 5, Brooklyn Steel, and Rough Trade NYC. The Ballroom venue was built in 1929 and used to be a high-end retail store, before being converted into a music venue in 1998. It stands right in front of the Bowery subway station, in case you're worried about getting lost trying to find it ;-). The venue has a cool vibe - you walk down stairs when you enter, then walk through a downstairs bar space, and then you walk upstairs to the main floor where there is another bar and the stage. There is also a wrap-around balcony which is nice if you get there early enough! Everything is GA Admission, so I do suggest that you get there early if you want a good view of the band.
The two opening bands of the night were Lomelda and Hovvdy. Lomelda is a solo artist from Texas - think Julien Baker but way more low-key, though her voice is stronger. Had some nice guitar lines too. The overall vibe is like a nerd-mom from the 80s, with high-waisted jeans and large hipster glasses. I wasn't a big fan of her, I think she just seemed too aloof. But maybe it was just her live performance / stage presence. I just took a listen to her new album "Thx" and it's not too bad; what do you guys think? She also played with Hovvdy during their set. Hovvdy is from Austin, TX and made up of Charlie Martin and Will Taylor (though for this show, they were a 4-piece band - adding Andrew and Hannah). I wasn't too impressed with them either unfortunately. Their style is described as "pillow core" on their Facebook page, which actually makes sense. They have a very chill, indie rock sound but nothing is distinctive to me about their songs (which you know is a pet peeve of mine) - everything just sounded the same to me, and also seemed to end right as the song was building. But if you enjoy "pillow core", then this is the band for you!
Pinegrove played an awesome set, as expected. I had a great spot and was able to take some good pictures and videos with my new Sony (check them out on the Media page). They opened with "Problems", followed by "Cadmium", my favorite "Size of the Moon", and the slower tune "&". Then came some newer songs like "Old Friends", "Aphasia", and "Visiting" - which has a really cool shoutout to Montclair in the lyrics, and was met with equal enthusiasm from the crowd.
They played a new song called "Paterson + Leo" that I really liked, and Evan told a cool story about writing that song, as well as Cardinal  while walking around at night in Brookdale Park. Not to gush too much, but this song is a perfect example of the masterful songwriting that Evan and the band comes up with. It starts off slow but with engaging riffs; then the lyrics build with genius phrasing; and then the whole song just builds to the main point of the story; and then just as suddenly as it reached the peak, it's over. Short and sweet. Another cool thing that Pinegrove does, that makes their songwriting style more akin to poetry - they aren't afraid to craft songs that are short but tell a meaningful story, just like a poem. No repetitive, space-filling lyrics from this band.
Their set continued with "Over My Shoulder", "Waveform", "Angelina", another one of my favorites "The Metronome", "Need 2", "Easy Enough" (possibly another new track?), and then ended with the crowd-pleasing sing-along-anthem "New Friends". Their encore was "Recycling".
Long story short - this show was amazing, Pinegrove's popularity continues to grow, and I cannot WAIT for their new album to drop. They released a single called "Intrepid" on Nov. 2 (check it out here on Spotify) and their song Paterson + Leo is short but sweet. If you get the chance to catch this band live, do it! They usually sell out their shows well in advance. Right on!
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