When I moved this past summer, I lost my favorite band shirt. As a live-show addict and self-identified hoarder, I probably currently have between 50-80 band shirts in my possession, but the loss of one is still enough to mourn–my concert tees hold experiences and memories more than most articles of clothing. The tissue-thin, holey Radiohead shirt I bought in the peak of my obsession remains my preferred sleep shirt, despite the fact that I haven’t listened to a record of theirs straight through for a couple of years now. I’m kind of embarrassed about my youth large Drive-Thru Records shirt, folded and crammed on the top shelf of my closet, but I can’t throw it away; I proudly wore it while playing my first live show.
The one I lost in August 2013 was huge – a men’s XXL that I cut the neck and sleeves off of, softened to perfection after however many washes. I wore it everywhere. Across the chest was a black snake, chopped up in a style similar to Benjamin Franklin’s JOIN OR DIE American Revolution illustration, dripping red ink blood and curled to spell out in eerie cursive: PILE.
I bought it for whatever amount of balled-up dollar bills was left in my pocket after seeing—experiencing—the Boston band eviscerate a 45-minute set at The Jinx. It was one of the last pieces of merch they had left on a long tour. This was my second time seeing Pile in Savannah—the first time was, if I recall correctly, an impromptu affair with Sins of Godless Men (then Howler) at the now-defunct Tantra Lounge about 4-5 years ago. That show arrested the audience (at that point in Tantra’s life, you never knew what you’d stumble into on any day of the week—the element of surprise was a big part of the fun in showing up), but The Jinx performance confirmed that Pile was on the brink of something big. They played fiercely, tightly, and with a freshness and passion that one might not attribute to a band that’s been fighting for years to get the recognition they deserve. I was thrilled to hear their name come up this summer as they booked tours with the rightfully buzz-worthy Speedy Ortiz, and especially thrilled to see them returning to Savannah for Stopover 2014.
2012’s LP, Dripping, is most often referred to with blanket “post-[your genre here]” terminology. What you can expect from Pile: intense, carefully calculated, angular guitar licks staggering through a healthy layer of grit and grime, dissonant vocals that stoner-stretch across mid-summer lazy verses, then exploding into ferocious, splintering howls over finger-tapping and bombastic cymbal crashes the next. It’s these wanderings that keep Pile so interesting, and wonderfully hard to place. Some Queens of the Stone Age elements here, classic 70’s stadium rock flourishes there. There are allusions to rock staples & hardcore greats, but Pile keeps it inventive and undeniably modern.
Well-loved in their tight-knit Boston Scene (Krill even wrote a concept EP about them!), I’m excited to see where 2014 takes Pile. Heck, maybe they’ll even reprint my favorite shirt.
They’ll be back at The Jinx on Friday, March 7, at 10PM. Check out their latest 7”, “Special Snowflakes/Mama’s Lipstick,” below.