Save The Pinhook, Night One: Sylvan Esso, Flock of Dimes, The Hot at Nights, Chatham County Line
The Pinhook, Durham
Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016

Wednesday night’s surprise bill to save the Pinhook covered a lot of ground, from Chatham County Line’s sweet acoustic Americana to Sylvan Esso’s electro-pop. The bill reflected one of the most significant elements that makes The Pinhook worth saving at all: It’s a comfortable space for most anything, from institutions like Chatham County Line to new-to-town figures like Flock of Dimes, the solo offshoot of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. Still, before the show started, I wondered how it would all fit together.

The crowd at 8 p.m. was relatively thin as Chatham County Line took the stage to the sounds of Missy Elliott’s “Work It.” But by the time the band’s tight half-hour set ended, The Pinhook was close to capacity and buzzing with excitement. Up next came The Hot at Nights, whose presence on the bill was a welcome surprise—I’d hoped to see them last Friday at The Pour House but couldn’t make it to Raleigh through Jonas’ ice. The trio scorched through four of the five songs on the wonderful new Cool It, a collection of re-interpretations of songs by North Carolina artists. Sylvan Esso’s “Uncatena” was among these, and the band didn’t bump it from the set list even after learning of the evening’s big headliner.

Jenn Wasner, the Wye Oak co-founder who recently relocated to the area from Baltimore, took the stage next for a mellow, pop-inclined set as Flock of Dimes. She leaned deep into the kind of lush electronic textures that started to appear on Wye Oak’s great last record, Shriek. And Raleigh’s Zensofly offered an impromptu break from the scheduled programming, with a quick three-song interlude that included an ode to “Netflix and chill,” inspired by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s classic “I Wonder if I Take You Home.”

Sylvan Esso’s energetic set at night’s end offered a high-energy closing note. For the duo, The Pinhook proved an essential stepping stone. Sylvan Esso played its first headlining show there in the summer of 2013, celebrating the release of the 12-inch single that fed the band’s runaway success. Part of the video for “Coffee,” the biggest single from Sylvan Esso’s self-titled record, was shot there, too. Those songs are all about three years old now, and Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn are currently developing a new record. The new song they played last night, tentatively called “Radio,” packed an interesting, urgent bounce.

Through ticket sales alone, The Pinhook raised over $7,000 last night, getting it close to the $48,000 mark. (The venue needs $80,000 to stay open). The Save the Pinhook series continues tonight and returns next Wednesday and Thursday with more secret lineups. Tickets to all of the shows are still available. If you can’t make the shows, you can also purchase a Bandcamp compilation of artists who’ve played The Pinhook.

Chatham County Line, “Six Days on The Road”

YouTube video