At its darkest and coolest that night, Gramercy Theatre felt like a hidden cavern buried in the city. Brandishing iPhone flashlights and whispering about indie rock, explorers climbed the steep rows of seats to their dizzying peak, while others hiked down the slope toward the stage. Before an imaginary stalactite could drip, Palehound flooded every fissure with their warm, grungy sound.
Ellen Kempner’s girl-next-door vocals ranged from sugary to spooky as she jammed on guitar and whipped her hair to the riffs. The Boston-based rockers may have that garage band edge, but they’ve certainly outgrown the garage band crowd. For an opening group as fresh on the scene as Palehound, the place was packed, and rightfully so. The three wrapped rich layers around their mixtape moodiness, with Kempner looking extra badass in her retro summer dress and Mary Jane shoes.
Terrifically offbeat and steeped in contrast, each song made its own sticky mess and resolved in a way that made everything feel good. Palehound’s addictive little setlist featured “Holiest,” “Molly,” “Healthier Folk,” “Cushioned Caging,” “Dry Food,” “Psycho Speak,” “Drooler,” and “Pet Carrot.”
As they wrapped up their set, Kempner paused to make an announcement. “There’s something we want to say. We’ve actually been saying this all tour, ever since we played in Jacksonville.”
(This is where a normal band would probably promote their album or push their merch.)
“In Jacksonville, we had a really unfortunate situation in which a girl was really being harassed by this guy, and he was being a total asshole,” she explained. “So if anyone here is experiencing anything like that tonight, please come find me, and we have ways of taking care of that. Because even if it’s your significant other, it’s not your role in a relationship to be treated that way.”
(Palehound is not a normal band.)
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley