REVIEW: Pinegrove (Sinclair 4/26)

During a tuning break mid-set, Evan Stephens Hall jokingly likened a string of sub-two-minute songs to the “living room” portion of Pinegrove’s show. Despite an extremely sold-out Sinclair, with a crowd singing along to every word, the show had the intimacy and the feel of a living room. Not a show, just the room itself. The feeling of a worn-in carpet and the crackle of the nearby fireplace.

Maybe it’s because of how good these songs sound live. Pinegrove is such a strong live band. Songs that sound great on albums Cardinal and Everything so Far reach new heights on stage.

Take “Angelina” – one of those sub-two-minute tunes – for example. On record, there is a tension to the track. Live, Hall’s delivery brings a sense of urgency and yearning, particularly when he sings “I love you like it’s the old days.” The band takes complex arrangements and turns them into gold.

Other highlights from the set list included “Aphasia,” with its extended jam out; “Old Friends,” with its heart-wrenching lyrics; and “Size of the Moon,” with its – well, heart-wrenching lyrics is already taken.

Hall’s stage presence is playfully goofy. Before playing the last song before the encore, he noted that he was hungry and would leave the stage for a snack of a red pepper. And after that last song, the applause died down and the crowd quieted to a hush – no rampant hush. Sure, bandleaders note the utter stupidity of encores, but it’s rare to see it treated like an intermission. Then, Hall returned with said pepper, before tearing into “Recycling.”

Allow me be the first to admit that it took me a while to truly get Pinegrove. But when I did finally connect with the music, everything I once read about the band with passing interest turned into must reads. It’s hard to say what compelled me to listen that fifth or sixth time that got me truly hooked on Pinegrove’s sound, but I’m glad it did. Hall’s songwriting, along with the band’s refined sound, should stick around for years to come.

Hovvdy of Austin, Texas, was Pinegrove’s tour mates. The music rarely deviated from a slow pace. Hovvdy is originally a duo, but tours as a four-piece ensemble.

Horse Jumper of Love served as local support (read our 2016 feature on the band here). This band has played all over the Boston area of course, but there’s nothing quite like hearing the band’s self-titled album’s tracks performed on The Sinclair’s clean and crisp sound system.

Check out photos of the show below. Pinegrove’s next stop in the Boston area is at Newport Folk Festival.