At the ripe old age of 19 and as single as they come, I cannot even pretend to know what the feeling of being a father must be like. But as I watched Pentimento hit the stage at Soundlab on what was a distinctly cold and snowy April day in Buffalo, I felt a sense of pride. I felt as if I, along with those in the crowd, had sent our boys off to college and that this was that first weekend they had so eagerly returned home.
For those of you who don’t know, Pentimento got their start in Buffalo in 2010 and are currently finishing off their second full United States tour, making waves in the punk community along the way.
That’s the aura that filled the venue (located in the dingy basement of The Dunn Building, with its Greek revival-style architecture seemingly unfit for a punk show) in the moments before the band took the stage. It was a homecoming; there were friends old
and new and although the opening bands (Cedar Kites, The Traditional, Allison Weiss, and Candy Hearts) all put on great performances, it was no secret we were there for Pentimento.
The room felt like a freezer as a light dusting of snow fell on the streets outside and the wind whipped in through the open doors into the naturally refrigerated basement. However, this weather seemed like the fitting conditions for Pentimento’s homecoming, as if the city was saying “Welcome Back” in its own language.
And in what may be construed as a sardonic and playful response to the city’s welcome, Pentimento opened their set with the song “For Winter” off of their self-titled full length album. As the band eased through the opening 30 seconds of the song, characterized by soft guitar notes, an air of anticipation began to well in the hometown crowd. As soon as the song kicked in the audience began banging their heads and the celebration was on. A huge grin crept over vocalist/guitarist Jerry Pauly’s face as every voice in the room sang the opening lyrics: “Am I dead to you yet? As if asking makes any sense” and it was clear that they were home and it was time to party.
Transitioning directly into “Circles,” the lead single off of their latest release, Pauly thanked the crowd for coming out, commenting on the amount of friends they had the pleasure of sharing the room with on such a special night. The song’s juxtaposition of melodic lulls and gritty power chords incited both fervent sing-alongs and moshing galore.
Next the band launched into the old favorite “Walking Calmly In Your Wake” off of their debut EP, Wrecked, followed by the electric version of the Pentimento standard “The Bridge.” With its simple yet heart-wrenching lyrics and Mike Hansen’s impeccable drumming, “The Bridge” added further to the growing chaos taking place.
Hitting other gems like “Conscience (Consequence)” and “Days Away,” the band experienced a bit of a hiccup when Pauly accidentally skipped over “The Wind” on the handwritten setlist at his feet, but Hansen was sure to correct this minor mistake and a laugh was shared between the two.
Pentimento then began the metaphorical “homestretch” of the show, those last three songs where the crowd knows that pretty soon the glass slipper is coming off and in no time they’ll be driving down the highway back to everyday life. And so, as the band began “Almost Atlantic,” a bittersweet but raucous mood fell over the venue. As the song climaxed to its cathartic end, the audience helped Hansen with backup vocals, screaming “I am the ocean, you are the sand beneath your waves” while Pauly simultaneously sang: “Everything I ever was ultimately added up to so much less than I had ever hoped for. I am the furthest thing away from what you see in me. But there have been times when there was no difference between you and I.”
After playing “Words With Friends,” another obligatory track off of their EP, the band ironically closed their set with the song “Unless” that opens their self-titled album. With its fast-paced guitars and Hansen’s snare drum crescendo, the room exploded for the entirety of the song as bodies bounced back and forth and Pauly concluded the song by stepping away from the microphone to scream the lyrics “All I am is a used to be, a yesterday, a memory!” with his friends in the crowd.