There’s something in the air this evening at the Brudenell, a word of mouth type atmosphere that only those ‘in the know’ are privy to; one many haven’t experienced since witnessing a young band named Gallows for the first time in the mid-2000’s.
Montreal’s’ Gulfer take to the stage to a curious and enthusiastic crowd. The band blast through a set of dynamically mathy-emo, the crowd nodding along to the likes of stop-start juggernaut Getting Hit by Parked Cars and the hooky riffs of Baseball. The Canadian natives pull off relentless vocals over intricate guitar lines with ease, still finding time to judder around the stage, yet failing to contain the energy worked up in this blinder of an opening set. 8/10
Run for Cover’s Pinegrove are here on their first UK tour, and with warm smiles they open on sublime early track Recycling. The fleshed out line up, complete with 3 guitarists and keys, fill the room, utilizing the intimate sound of the venue. Next up, Cadmium builds from the simple melodic guitar lines of vocalist Evan Stephens-Hall, to a foot-tapping groove, providing the first sing-a-long of the evening. Picking up the pace with Then Again; ironically a song about touring, the band show that they can do straightforward rockers as well as anyone.
Mid-way through the set, Stephens-Hall thanks the crowd, acknowledging that although it’s a social norm to clap after each song, It feels good when people appreciate what his band does. He points out that everyone in the room has the power to make someone feel good about themselves at any given time. Its a poignant moment, that the audience clearly revel in sharing with the band before the alt-country of New Friends shows off the band’s lush harmonies.
The real beauty in seeing a band like Pinegrove in this setting, is how brightly their influences shine. Live, you can hear a sound that owes as much to Harvest-era Neil Young and Alabama’s FAME Studios, as it does to the current crop of Run for Cover artists. This can be attributed to the wealth of musical talent the band has and in particular to frontman Evan. Moving from soulful brilliance to broken howl with ease, in Stephens-Hall, Pinegrove truly have unique and enigmatic leader.
Instead of heading off stage before the encore, the band fake leaving, before sarcastically announcing “Welcome to the encore!”. Cardinal opener Old Friends wins ‘crowd participation of the night’ with almost every person in the room singing the words right back in unison. The evening culminates with a near-perfect rendition of Aphasia, which provides the shows highlight, building to a roaring climax and winding down with breezy southern rock swagger. At this moment in time, Pinegrove stand unparalleled as masters of their craft.