Pinegrove concert disappoints with weak openers, vocal performances

By ALE PENA
@TheEtCetera

Club Dada, the venue in Deep Ellum where headlining band Pinegrove played a sold out show on September 30th, was filled with disappointment the entire night.

Hordes of fans excitedly lined outside the small venue an hour before the show started in hopes of getting a barricade view of Pinegrove, an indie rock band that rose to underground fame in 2016 for their critically acclaimed album “Cardinal” before their set.

“Cardinal” was rated highly by Pitchfork and other music publications due to the band’s unique sound. They blend alternative rock, indie rock, alternative country, and emo influences in a way that has not been done before. Although the official “Cardinal” tour happened a year ago, the band still tours regularly in the United States. This North American tour takes them from coast to coast in the matter of two months.

The initial excitement of the fans waiting outside the venue was soon replaced with dismay and anxiety for some. The security guard who was checking tickets and I. D’s started giving the worst possible news to someone who had waited in line an hour for a concert: “your ticket is counterfeit.”

Because the concert sold-out only a week after the tour was announced, many fans rushed to Stubhub, a website where individuals can re-sell their tickets, to buy a ticket for the show.

Unfortunately, this website is filled with scammers who a small crowd of Pinegrove lovers fell victim to.

Although they protested, the security guard did not budge.

I walked into the venue saddened by the situation, but had hope that the opening bands Lomelda and Florist would make up for it.

This was my first mistake.

The first band up was Lomelda, a two-piece folk-rock band from Silsbee, Texas. They are led by lead-singer Hanna Reed, a petite, mousy girl whose face was always covered by a baseball cap.

Reed played a couple of chords and went straight into a song, which the audience was confused by, due to the lack of introduction or warning.

Heads in the crowd twisted left and right trying to find affirmation from others that Lomelda’s set had in fact already started.

Reed’s live performance was timid and shaky. Her cap masked her entire face. The only thing visible from afar were her glasses and her bright green baggy t-shirt.

Although Reed was not the best performer, her voice sounded whimsical. Sadly, this was not enough to keep the crowd engaged in her performance.

The venue was packed by now and many of the concertgoers had started drinking. This intoxication and boredom led to the audience becoming loud and boisterous, something that clashed against Reed’s soft croons.

After half an hour of this interruption, what was visible of Reed’s face got red as she asked the audience to quiet down, but they did not listen.

Lomelda then played their last song with even less energy than before and walked off the stage.

Although Lomelda’s set bored me, I still had hope for Florist, the next opening band.

This was my second mistake.

Florist, a two-piece indie pop band led by lead singer Emily Prague, a gender non-comforming person who looks exactly like Hannah Reed, sounded promising.

Their music is more upbeat than Lomelda’s and Prague started off the set by asking the crowd if they liked Chance the Rapper, and they all clapped and hollered.

There was finally a more engaging energy in the audience.

This did not last long.

After the initial question of asking the crowd if they liked Chance the Rapper, Prague deadpanned the crowd by introducing their first song saying, “I wrote this song a day before my mom died. Thanks Chance the Rapper.”

They then played very timid and quiet songs that sounded exactly like Lomelda’s. Prauge also had the whimsical voice, but once again, the crowd had gotten even more intoxicated and rowdy, so their performance was overshadowed by the audience.

Prauge also asked the audience to quiet down, but was met with empty stares and even louder talking, so they also walked off the stage.

I was growing angry at the disrespect my fellow concert-goers were displaying, and had little to no excitement about Pinegrove at that moment.

The twenty-somethings next to me started naming their favorite Pinegrove songs, however, so I pumped myself up. After all, they are my favorite band.

This was my third, and last, mistake.

Evan Stephens Hall, the lead singer and mastermind behind Pinegrove, took the stage to an eruption of praise from the audience.

I was finally pumped to dance and sing along to the alternative rock/ country emo/ americana songs I had listened to religiously for an entire year.

Hall introduced the members of Pinegrove to the band, to which there were many “I love you”s from the crowd.

Hall then informed the audience that he was sick and had a fever, but that he was taking tequila shots for energy and was going to make it up by performing as best as he could. The drinking mixed with a fever concerned me, but I overlooked it.

And they did perform with energy. They started off with “Angelina”, a cult favorite about missing an old lover.

“I love you like the old days,” Hall sang with a twangy accent. “When I could ask you anything. How’d you get so tangled up in my thinking?”

The person next to me joked to his friend that he’s now thinking about texting his ex. The crowd was doing the same – joking and having a good time. Finally.

Or so it seemed.

It started going downhill after the first two songs.

Through no fault of Hall’s own, he started coughing and his usually strong voice started breaking. This disrupted the other band members as he was unable to play guitar while coughing.

He still attempted to keep going, though. He asked the crowd to sing along loudly to give him confidence and offer vocals when he could not.

The crowd did not sing along loudly to the rest of the songs. Some phrases were shouted here and there, but there was mostly drunk banter from the crowd.

I was saddened that I was not surrounded by people who loved this band and had waited an entire year to see them live like I did.

Evan took an extra shot on stage and could not perform the guitar solo on “Aphasia”, another song about an old lover. “So complicated / I can’t wait to get explaining,” Hall sang. I need explanations, too. From the crowd and from the band as to why they did not re-schedule the show.

After around 45 minutes of this, Pinegrove ended the set early with “New Friends”, the last song off of “Cardinal.” “What’s the worst that could happen?” Hall shouted.

I should have asked myself the same question when entering the venue.

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