Archive for the ‘Pinegrove’ Category

[POSTPONED: May 13, 2020] Half Waif / Ian Chang [moved to October 24]

indexHalf Waif is the project of former Pinegrove singer Nandi Rose.  I find her music very pleasing.

I only found out about this show recently before it was cancelled.  I had no plans of going to the show because I already had tickets to Bikini Kill (very different vibe) that night.  But she is someone I’ve thought about seeing.

A rescheduled date in October sounds wonderful.

Ian Chang is a drummer for Son Lux and a dozen other bands.  He is a phenomenal drummer, instantly recognizable and wonderful to watch.  The addition of him as a opening act makes the show a lot more interesting for me.

I’m glad to see that he is opening for the rescheduled date as well.

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[POSTPONED: May 8, 2020] Ratboys / Another Michael [moved to September 9]

indexI really like the new Ratboys record Printer’s Devil. It’s got a lot more rocking sound than their earlier albums.

The guitars are more distorted.  The drums are louder and Julia Steiner’s voice seems a bit bigger.  But they still have a pop sensibility.  They seem liked they’d be fun live.

I could have seen Another Michael open for Pinegrove at House of Independents.  I picked a different night with a different opening band.  They play a kind of mellow indie rock with lead Michael’s vocals veering into R&B styles.  They don’t exactly seem to go together, but maybe it would work.

I wasn’t going to go to this show since it was my birthday and I already had a ticket to a show that I wasn’t sure I would be able to go to.  So the rescheduled date of September 9 works pretty well for me.


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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2019] Pinegrove

This is the third time I have seen Pinegrove.  I saw them in 2017 and had plans to see them two more times by the end of the year.  But they cancelled their shows and took a hiatus.  They came back this year and I was lucky enough to catch one of their first shows back down in Asbury Park.

Despite having seen them just a few months earlier, I felt somewhat unsatisfied about that HoI show.  Not sure what it was–maybe because I was off to the side too far, or what.  I mean the band sounded great that night.  But I felt like I needed one more show from them, and tonight’s show scratched that itch.

Even though they played pretty much the same set, something about this show felt complete.

Maybe it was that they upgraded from a curtain with their logo of two boxes on it to neon lights in the shape of two boxes.

Or maybe it was that there six people on stage instead of five? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2019] Boyscott

I hadn’t heard of Boyscott before this tour either.

It turns out that the Scott of Boyscott [Scott Hermo Jr] grew up on the same street in Montclair as Evan Stephens Hall (they’re about six years apart).  I don’t know if that’s why they were chosen to play these local dates, but whatever the reason, it was great to have them open for Pinegrove.

It’s surprisingly hard to find out who was on stage with them.  The live band was a five piece, although their album was recorded by a three-piece.  Names associated with the band include: Emma Willer of Slumbers on guitar, John Lewandowski of Super Low on drums, Ellen McGirk (keys and vocals who I am pretty sure was not there), and bassist Noah Miller.  There was also someone with one name on a second guitar and percussion.

They played same light indie-pop.  What I really liked about the band was that none of the songs were simple verse chorus verse. Each one had some interesting middle part or new section or even just an unexpected stop mid-song.

By the second or third song I was really enjoying their set. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2019] Derek Ted

I had never heard of Derek Ted when it was announced that he was opening for Pinegrove (along with Boyscott).

I arrived plenty early to get to Pinegrove because the show started at 7:30 and a lot of people didn’t show up until 8.  So I was right up font when Derek Ted started.  He came out and it was just him and his guitar.

He played the first song and it was fine.  I didn’t love his voice but I thought the melody and lyrics were really nice.

After that first song, the rest of the band came out–another guitar, drums and bass.  I can’t find any band member names online, but they added some amazing components to the music as you can hear in “Waves on the Lake.

The drums were minimal and yet relatively complex–unexpected time changes and a bunch of song that ended abruptly with a smacking snare drum. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 21, 2019] King Crimson

It is hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I last saw King Crimson, because I feels like it was just a few months ago.

This was my fourth time seeing them in five years.  As I said last time, who knows when Robert Fripp is going to decide to end this iteration, so if they come to town, I’m going to see them.  In fact, I had a ticket for Monday night’s show in Philly as well but I decided not to go because I had been to a show Friday and now Saturday and I had four more shows lined up later in the week (seven shows in nine days is a lot, even for me).

This time I went with my friend Bill.  He drove us into the city for which I was thankful.  He told me he usually just looks for street parking but because he didn’t want to be late he booked a garage.  That proved to be a huge mistake because everyone who didn’t live in NYC also booked that garage and there were only two attendants.  We waited for 45 minutes for our car (which meant I got home at 2AM!).  This was Bill’s first time seeing King Crimson.

He was very impressed.  Of course.

This time the band was back down to a seven piece.  I’m not sure what happened to the eighth member.  It was going to be Bill Rieflin again and then he took a sabbatical and was replaced by Theo Travis.  But apparently he was not included on this tour “when the band opted not to have musicians deputising for Rieflin again.”

Even though these shows have a base of similar songs and players, each tour (and each tour date) has mixed it up somewhat.  So out of the eighteen songs they played that night, I hadn’t seen 5 of them.  That’s a pretty great evolution.   And honestly, the songs I’ve heard more than once (some every time) I’m more than happy to hear again and again.

The last time I saw them I wrote

after they tour Europe, if they came back I would see them again no question.  This time maybe from the front of the balcony for a whole new perspective.

Following my own advice, I scored front row balcony seats to this show, and they were really spectacular.  The band sounded great and it was easy to see what everyone was doing (where to look is a perennial problem).  [My seats in Philly were also exciting–stage left in a balcony box, staring right at Fripp–I’ll definitely try to get them again if they come around in 2020). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 11, 2019] Pinegrove

Back in 2017, I saw Pinegrove at the hot, sweaty First Unitarian Church.  The buzz around them had hit fever pitch and the crowd was insane.  In fact the whole night was a crazy sweatbox.  I couldn’t see very much so I was excited to get tickets for two more shows near the end of 2017.  Then their scandal broke and they cancelled their shows.

They have come back out of hiding for a few shows around the neighborhood.  I couldn’t get tickets to their very first shows.  Then came this trio of shows in Asbury Park.  I had actually somehow scored a ticket to Saturday night’s initial only show before realizing that we were going to Aurora that night.  I didn’t see that they’d added a show on Sunday until it was sold out.  But when they added a Monday show, I was there and managed to get a ticket.

Conventional wisdom says that the final show is always the best one.  I’m not sure if that’s true since former Pinegrove vocalist and full time Half Waif vocalist Nandi Rose Plunkett joined them on stage for a song on the first night.  But newly shorn Evan Stephens Hall (he went from shoulder length to buzzcut) promised that since it was the last night of their tour, they would be loose but still tight.  And that seems pretty apt. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 11, 2019] Poppies

I was supposed to see Pinegrove twice at the end of 2017.  Then their scandal broke and they cancelled their shows.  They have come back out of hiding for a few shows around the neighborhood.  I couldn’t get tickets to their very first shows.  Then came this trio of shows in Asbury Park.  I had actually somehow scored a ticket to Saturday night’s show before realizing that we were going to Aurora that night.  I didn’t see that they’d added a show on Sunday until it was sold out.  But when they added a Monday show, I was there and managed to get a ticket.

Poppies opened all three nights.

They are a four piece with May on lead vocals (primarily) and guitar and Ian on lead guitar and some lead vocals.  The thing that stood out for me about them was their utterly deadpan demeanor onstage.  In between songs the banter was nonexistent or really really dry.  “Hi, we’re Poppies.”  “This is a new song.”

They play a fascinatingly diverse style(s) of music.  Some of their songs were quiet with gentle guitars and May’s quieter vocals.  But some of the songs totally rocked out with some of Ian’s wilder guitar noises.  Some songs did both.

The set opened with a slightly discordant guitar and May’s whispered vocals.  I liked that she had on a blazer for the opening (and wide weft cords!) and then revealed her bright yellow shirt a few songs in.

I was concerned that an opening set of this kind of music would be rather tedious.  But then they opened it up with some good rocking guitar and May’s louder vocals. I especially loved the noises that Ian made on his guitar in the beginning of this song.

My favorite song of their set came as either the last or second to last of the night.  May said that  these next few songs were so new they didn’t have names yet.  They were the most enjoyable of the bunch to me.

That bodes well for future releases from them.


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[ATTENDED: March 11, 2019] Trace Mountains

Pinegrove played three nights at House of Independents.  Each night featured Poppies opening and then a second band in the middle slot.  Saturday was Another Michael, Sunday was Brother Bird and Monday was Trace Mountains.  Interestingly, I was supposed to see Brother Bird open for Lily & Madeleine a few weeks earlier, so I have now missed Brother Bird twice.

I hadn’t heard any of them, so that didn’t have any impact on which night I wanted to go.  Originally it would have been Another Michael.  But since I switched dates to Monday, I got to see Trace Mountains.

I also had no idea that I had recently seen the lead singer and guitarist of Trace Mountains, for he is Dave Benton of LVL UP.  I was trying to remember whose songs I liked best when I saw LVL UP.  All three singers sang and I enjoyed Benton’s more deadpan style of singing.  It’s interesting that Trace Mountains was supposed to be a somewhat quieter side project and yet in my experience all of these songs were more rocking than his LVL UP songs.

Trace Mountains is (was?) his solo project.  For this show the band was a four piece with a great lead guitarist and a solid rhythm section.

I can’t find the names of any of the players, but I really enjoyed the guitarist in the ocher cardigan who stood in front of me.  He also plays keys.  At one point he and Benton shares soloing duties which sounded pretty great.

Indeed, all of the songs were enjoyable.  And there was a good variety in the songs.  I didn’t catch song title, but while there were some real Stomping cuts they also changed up their delivery style with slower rockers like this one. I was also intrigued by Benton’s voice, because it sounded quite different depending on the song.  And yet it never sounded quite as deadpan as he did with LVL UP.

Benton was an entertaining frontman as well.  He joked (or maybe not) that he was happy to be there except that he was missing The Bachelor.  There was also a funny moment in the middle of their set when someone started chanting “one more song” like they do for encores.  But mid-set it came across as very funny and Benton was certainly in on the joke, “Sorry to disappoint you….”

I enjoyed their set quite a bit.

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SOUNDTRACK: HALF WAIF-Tiny Desk Concert #803 (November 9, 2018).

Nandi Rose Plunkett is a member of Pinegrove. She released albums as Half Waif, and when Pinegrove retreated for a time, she toured as Half Waif.  I wanted to see her but didn’t have the opportunity.

I was under the impression that her shows were very spare and I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a full live set by her.  This five piece version (see more below) has a wonderful full sound though and these songs sound terrific.

The band [is] more often a trio, with Nandi singing her songs and playing keyboards, Zack Levine on drums and Adan Carlo bass synth and guitar.

But for this show she has a five piece band, which she has a great introduction for:

Midway through Half Waif’s Tiny Desk, singer Nandi Rose Plunkett stops to let us all know that this particular Half Waif show is extra special. “So today we’re actually ‘Full Waif,’ because I am joined by my dear friends,” she says. “These are all musicians who have played with the band Half Waif over the past five years, but we’ve never all played together until now! So thanks for the opportunity to get ‘Full Waif’ together.”

The other two guys are Zubin Hensler keys and Robin electronic drums.

It’s clear that she doesn’t need all five of them–the music isn’t all that complicated but it ensures a really full sound.  What’s most notable is the two drummers–each doing his own thing but combining into a wonderful rhythm session.

The session opens with “Lavender Burning.”  It sounds like she is playing a harmonium, but I don’t think she is.  The layers of synth are added to by Adan and Zubin.  It’s not until about half way into the song that the drums come in and it adds a lot of texture to an already wonderful song.

“Lavender Burning,” with its opening line, “Staring out into the shifting darkness / Tryin’ to give a name to the place where my heart is,” reinforces my love for their peaceful, almost backwoods calm.

The more I listen to the song the more powerful it becomes.  And Nandi’s voice is just lovely.

“Silt” opens with electronic drums and Nandi’s simple synth washes.  I love the thoughtful and clear lyrics

Nobody deserves me.  I get lonely. I get angry.
My love is like an island.  You can’t find it if you’re not trying
And if you want my love I will guide you. I will be your anchor.  If I only have a minute to myself. T hen i would let you in without poison.  I would eat my anger if you only gave me what I wanted.

Adan offers some nice backing vocals and Nandi does double duty on synth and piano.  There’s so many interesting sounds I’m not sure who is doing what (like that synth solo at the end).

The final song is “Salt Candy” which is the a more acoustic track–Nandi on piano only to start.  Adan is making the tiniest sounds on guitar and the drumming is spare and minimal.

When they closed with “Salt Candy,” the line “I wanted to be carried in my mother’s arms / I wanted to be buried in my mother’s arms,” in this setting and with the spare punctuation of electronic drums and textures, sitting alongside Nandi’s voice, was particularly chilling.

It’s a beautiful set and makes me like them a lot more.  I’ll definitely have to see them when they tour again.

[READ: January 7, 2017] “Pardon Edward Snowden”

Many people feel that stories about writers are not very interesting.  I disagree typically, but that’s probably because I aspire[d] to write something someday.

This story is about a poet and I really liked it a lot.  I enjoyed the political and the literary nature of the story.

Mark McCain received an email sent to many American poets inviting him to sign a “poetition” requesting that president Obama pardon Edward Snowden.

The request also took the form of a poem and the narrator talks about some of the rhymes: “pardon and rose garden.”  “nation and Eden” “Putin and boot in.”

Mark forwarded the email to his friend, the poet E.W. West.  They were enraged by the “poetition.” (more…)

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