Although First Avenue’s Best New Bands show was last week, it sure felt seeing Pit Stop onstage was part of that showcase. Pit Stop, a band best described as an Americana-Blues-Country-Folk-Rock, with dash of doo-wop, maximized their six song set last night. Jake Balistrieri and Sarah Mevissen front a loaded rhythm section of Zack Warpinki (bass) and Gage Webster (drums). Their secret weapon is James Patrick Horigan on electric guitar.
Their self-titled debut came out last November. Finally hearing some of these songs through First Avenue’s robust sound system was a delight. “Blue to Gray” introduced the audience to a rockabilly tromp and their dynamic of humor and heartache blended lyrics. Having watched the weirdly fascinating music video of the song, it was a bonus seeing Sarah once again don the blue ruffle square dance dress.
The self titled song “Pit Stop” shifted the tone with Jake leading the charge. The song builds into a rock storm of guitars and drudge as the lyrics ask:
“Was I worth it
Did I deserve this
Was I on purpose
Or was I just a pit stop along the way.”
It was James’ streaking in guitar solo and buildup that pronounced their presence to a crowd realizing the diversity of genres. Pit Stop gives you those moments where the song suddenly shifts angles, changing from a country tune to a rock song.
“Good At Being Alone” packages a sad subject into a singable song. The harmonies lace the country ballad with a gentle wave, while the chorus drives home the message of being a better person alone, then together with someone. Cleverly disguised as a heart wrenching realization, for anyone not listing to the lyrics, it could easy be misconstrued as happy.
The heavy does of swing came with “Let Me.” The back of First Avenue had pockets of swirling dancing, while once again Pit Stop shifted gears turning the song into a blues vibe. The heavy downbeat of bass and drums washed over the crowd until the electric guitar soared for the final 30 seconds.
Finishing out the set was Sarah’s deranged doo-wop ditty “I’m Smiling.” The song progresses with heavy breaths and elongated sanity ‘y’s that burn into your brain. The song slowly comes loose with crazy guitars and aggressive ha-ha’s before a jam that leads into a resolve. Pit Stop looked comfortable on the large stage, taking brief moments for shimmying and smiling into the front row. Seeing a local band play First Avenue for the first time never gets tiring.
Pit Stop released an enigma of an album, giving you different angles and unexpected swings in a song. It’s a release that you go back and repeat listen, learning the plot points and soaking in the heartbreak. Hearing them with the full force of First Avenue was a delight, the perfect way to take in those unique moments. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back onstage in a larger role in the future.
To see the full high resolution photos from the set, click here.