XPN Fest Recap: Pinegrove gets day one under way with an explosive set

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Pinegrove | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

“It’s a great day to perform, now we just have to get verified on Instagram.” After a slew of last-minute schedule changes due to an ominous weather forecast, New Jersey natives Pinegrove opened up the 2017 XPoNential Music Festival on the smaller Marina Stage in Wiggins Park for what was one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. The XPN Fest crowd had come out in full force with folding chairs and picnic blankets, but from the moment the band from Montclair stepped onto the stage the fans (some who had come from hours away just for this set) matched the energy and intensity that emanated from the stage.

Watching Evan Stephens Hall perform is a gift; as Pinegrove’s frontman he bares his whole heart and soul with every word, and his connection with his bandmates makes for a duel dynamic of “I want to hang out with them” and “I never want to talk to them because I want them to keep playing forever.”

Pinegrove | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

Looking at the setlist for their festival appearances earlier in the summer, it is clear that Pinegrove doesn’t stick to a same tried-and-true formula for every show. Standouts like “Cadmium,” “Old Friends,” “New Friends,” “Angelina,” and “Aphasia” are a given, but with a fan-filled crowd and limited material, the newest of which has been released for over a year, any track and combination that Pinegrove could have offered would have been welcomed with the same cheering for the deep cuts as for the singles—and they were, especially for mid-set throwback “The Metronome.” I was most looking forward to “Size of the Moon,” a track that has been released in different versions over the years. The track’s live performance really showcases Pinegrove’s knack for turning it down in a quiet acoustic moment before releasing into an explosive refrain.

The crowd booed at the ten-minute countdown, to which the band responded “okay – no more talking, let’s get three more in.”

Pinegrove are currently recording a new album to follow their 2016 Run for Cover Records debut Cardinal – check out a behind-the-scenes look at their process here.

***Writer’s Note: After this piece was published, Pinegrove reached out via Twitter to make a correction: the band said that “Nandi just got verified on Instagram” for her band Half Waif rather than that they still have to get verified on Instagram. 

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