Evan Stephens Hall leads Pinegrove during a performance at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on Oct. 19, 2021. (Photo by Casey Vock)
This country can be an unforgiving place to those in entertainment who makes mistakes, especially errors that anyone with common decency would agree are significant and alarming.
But America, as we have seen throughout history and in recent times, can also provide artists the opportunity to redeem and reinvent themselves if there is still enough support for their craft and what they originally set out to do.
That might be the easiest way for an outsider to rationalize or make sense of Pinegrove, a band originally from Montclair, New Jersey, that played to a packed house at Rams Head Live in Baltimore recently — but a band that saw its rise to fame derailed several years ago by what were and still should be considered serious accusations of sexual coercion against lead singer and guitarist Evan Stephens Hall.
As a fan of live music, going from seeing a show at least twice weekly to no shows at all for about eight months has been rough, but it’s nothing compared to what venues and artists have gone through in that time. It’s been a year of live-streaming, fundraisers, and trying to find new ways of keeping the making of music and the creation of these unique communal experiences alive through these difficult times.
One of those ways that have emerged in recent months is the advent of drive-in concerts.
The Front Bottoms (Photo courtesy Baltimore Soundstage)
In August, The Front Bottoms released In Sickness & In Flames, the band’s fifth full-length studio album. Now, guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Mat Uychich are playing socially distanced drive-in shows, with a date at the Frederick Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Oct. 28, presented by Baltimore Soundstage!
The Smithereens perform at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, on Jan. 17, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
“In sickness and in health.”
Those words are normally reserved for particularly solemn occasions, but those same moments can be joyous, life-affirming and festive… much like a Smithereens concert, come to think of it. Friday night was just one of those instances with the New Jersey-based Smithereens making their 20th appearance at the State Theatre in Falls Church. For many of us battling colds, flu, and various other ailments, The Smithereens energetic, exuberant, and healing music was just the right medicine.
Five-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette got off to a rocky start when she opened for David Bromberg recently at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue. After her first number, she pleaded for the tech to turn down the echo and reverb. With it its high ceilings — Bettye called the room a cavern — Sixth & I’s sanctuary provides its own echo. As Bettye remarked, with echo on her mic, it sounded a bit too much like “heaven,” and not in a good way.