A club wasn’t the only thing going up this Tuesday. Palehound rose the roof at the Holland Project in Reno. Hailing from Boston and making a first trek into Nevada, guitarist and lead vocalist Ellen Kempner and her bandmates rocked the crowd with their pop, punk and post-grunge feel. The group’s stage presence and tonalities left the small, but engaged crowd reminiscing about Nirvana and Blind Melon.
The two opening local bands, Stirr Lightly and Fine Motor, paved the way with their intricate drum rhythms. Palehound’s drummer, Jesse Weiss, and bassist, Larz Brogan, kept the momentum with their deceptively complex rhythms. This set the foundation for Kempner’s hyper-personal, intimate lyrics. Her half-whispered vocals struck the audience in a way that manipulated people’s moods.
Since bursting onto the scene in 2015, the band has received critical acclaim in the form of awards, including a Boston Music Award for new artist of the year, and has endured a relentless touring schedule. This is not a surprise with how interactive and open Kempner is with the crowd.
In between songs, she told the audience the band’s story of their first night in Reno. This was both personal and captivating. Their night started in typical fashion for someone visiting Reno, but quickly turned to a night-in after half a mojito and a short spell at the slots. After the brief casino visit, the musicians bought some ice cream and watched a movie in their room. With the reaction of the audience, it was easy to tell that their story was relatable.
Palehound displayed a common theme — minimalist, grungy and gloomy. With the majority of the set coming from their new album, “A Place I’ll Always Go,” which is about the unforeseen death of a friend and grandmother, this is no surprise. The emotional expression through not only the ethereal lyrics, but also the instrumentation, left everyone in the room feeling much more connected. Their grunge attire also made the setting seem relaxed, comfortable and nostalgic of the ’90s music scene.
– Earl Fegert