Pinegrove make genuinely warm music that exposes all our fallibilities and good intentions. Their music is wracked with nostalgia, recalling late nights, old friends and drunken mistakes.

The six-piece alt country band were one of the breakthrough acts of last year, with their album Cardinal featuring on numerous end-of-year lists and their live shows garnering praise from critics on both sides of the Atlantic. This adulation from fans and journalists alike has led them to sell out nearly every single show of this UK tour, including tonight’s gig at the Deaf Institute.

The loyalty of the crowd gathered tonight quickly becomes apparent in tonight’s opener ‘Visiting’, with the audience shouting every word back at lead singer Evan Stephens Hall. The song is a post-punk bundle of energy that reaches its peak when backing vocals are added during a devastating breakdown.

‘Old Friends’, possibly the band’s biggest song yet, provokes an ever larger singalong than ‘Visiting’. Evan’s lyrical flair is underscored here, as he considers the temporary nature of life, singing “I saw Leah on the bus a few months ago, I saw some old friends at her funeral.” By the song’s climax Evan realises that he needs to appreciate friends and relatives before they’re gone, remarking “I should call my parents when I think of them, should tell my friends when I love them.” This line is relatable to nearly everyone here tonight and is telling of why the band has gained so much acclaim; Pinegrove are the absolute masters of harnessing an emotion. Evan affirms this in the song’s final words, casually stating “I got too caught up in my own shit.”

From this we go to ‘Aphasia’, where Evan describes a moment when he was finally able to express himself after overcoming nerves that had previously hamstrung him – we’ve all been there, that night we regretted not speaking to an old friend or that night where we finally got the chance to meet somebody we admire but unexplainably lost our ability to speak. However, Evan is only able to overcome due to his lover, but he vows to change this in one final barnstorming chorus, singing “One day I won’t need your love, one day I won’t define myself by the one I’m thinking of”, as the crowd cause the floorboards underneath us to bounce.

The lead singer continues to reveal his charismatic nature as he announces his happiness at the discovery of seven new planets, before aptly launching into ‘Size of the Moon’. After this, the band play a whole host of what they refer to as ‘tinies’, short songs that barely touch the two minute mark, rattling through a couple of new songs and the euphoric ‘Angelina’.

Before tonight’s closer, Evan announces that all of these songs are about challenging yourself to love better, to love those you don’t know and those who are completely different to you. This is a challenge that he sets himself daily and one that he fails at just as much as he succeeds, as can be seen on tonight’s final song ‘New Friends’, when he sings “I resolve to make new friends, I liked my old ones but I fucked up.” They may not succeed in this mission every day, but tonight Pinegrove has helped us all ‘love better’ by creating one of the most communal atmospheres you are ever likely to witness at a gig.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.