Anxious and excitable, but always humble – New Jersey ensemble Pinegrove delight a sold-out Scala in a seemingly effortless manner.
“So… uh, this is the biggest show we’ve played, anywhere, ever” shyly mumbles frontman Evan Stephens Hall as he allows his eyes to wander around this compact, yet aesthetically opulent venue. Opening with a typically melodic-yet-punchy ‘Visiting’, us fans are only given a glimpse of what the evening will offer. Almost as soon as the final chord is struck, cries of ‘LOUDER’ echo from various voices amongst the crowd. Almost instantaneously, the band stumble into the lyrically conversational opener to their 2016 masterpiece ‘Cardinal’ and unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the audience are singing every single lyric of ‘Old Friends’ back to its author.
Stephens Hall is truly a genius, and a huge portion of Pinegrove’s ever increasing success is thanks to a combination of his linguistic prowess, sonic awareness and just generally being a cool guy. Like, effortlessly cool. His mid-set monologue about the traditional shirt-tuck that he so famously sports should, on all accounts, be banal and totally lame. But because it came from the mouth of Evan Stephens Hall it wasn’t, it was charming and funny.
That’s Pinegrove in a nutshell – beautifully abstract. Yet, a band with such an individual and distinct sound have managed to make a profound impression on audiences from across the globe, with many listeners falling in love with their romantically nostalgic, country vibe crossed with a new-wave emo, alt-rock tenacity. It truly is a unique sound, but to say that it works is a crude understatement.
The remainder of their set on this night was a hallmark performance of assured and immensely gifted musicians. I have never witnessed a band’s live show that so closely emulates the precision of their studio outputs – Pinegrove never missed a beat, and I don’t think they ever will. ‘Cadmium’ was a highlight, eliciting a thunderous roar from the crowd at the very inception of the cascading arpeggiated chords that have become a staple of Pinegrove’s sound.
All in all, the concert that these guys put on that night in London was nothing short of perfect. Pinegrove truly are a modern-day reminder of why we refer to music as an art-form.