Finding Night Moves at The Echo

By Allyson Nobles
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Photo by Connor Gilmore

“This is the most fun we’ve ever had touring,” John Pelant laughed over the phone.

Somewhere outside Eugene, Oregon, Night Moves was cruising along to true crime podcasts, guzzling waters enhanced with Emergen-C.

On the road for the release of their third album Can You Really Find Me (released via Domino), the U.S. leg of the tour was coming to a close as they neared Los Angeles for their stop at The Echo on September 21st. Just “five guys in a conversion van” Pelant says referring to his fellow band mates, but this time with a new addition, a sound guy. A gamechanger for Night Moves.

At The Echo, the proof is in the richness of their sound as it glosses over the crowd. The glitz of Pelant’s falsetto perfectly transforms out of his lower gravel on “Recollections,” with Micky Alfano and the rest of the band grooving along in sync.

A few things have changed since their start in 2012, the sound surely one of them. Can You Really Find Me finds itself marrying moments of distortion with new-wave-callback ballads, but then suddenly their distinctive tones will come through, that audial edge that only comes from a band that embraces their beginnings. Pelant elaborates that Can You Really Find Me is “similar, but more mature… like, ‘I’ve already done this, and I don’t want to do that again.’”

Photo by Connor Gilmore

It seems only natural, as the guys have grown significantly over the last seven years. Back at The Echo, Pelant exclaims to the crowd, “It’s been so long since we’ve been here… I don’t know what to say; we’ll see how this evening goes.” The slower ballad “Alabama” then presents itself, the guys’ harmonies on the breakdown like an effervescent memory floating over everyone’s bobbing heads.

“Yeah, I think people dig it…” Pelant responded when asked how the reception from the crowd has been for Can You Really Find Me thus far. This humbly said of a record that features the likes of “Strands Align,” one of their singles that features none other than Chris Mulkey as a car salesman protagonist. The song’s a clear standout on the record that was met with immediate enthusiasm at The Echo, punctuated by Pelant on the harmonica, an ornamentation that seems all too nostalgic for the audience as much as Night Moves.

Throughout their set they somehow managed to meet the expectations of their longtime fans with the newness of their more recent following and trajectory as a band, a successful evening of growth and support for Night Moves as they continue on their journey.

“It keeps you alert, you know?”

Photo by Connor Gilmore

Though Pelant was describing the unending world of true crime podcasts that the band as adopted for on the road, there is a lot of truth in their path as a band and with their music. This record is clearly Night Moves, and yet jumping from the likes of “Only To Live In Your Memory” or their most notable hit “Carl Sagan” to “Mexico,” it’s as if we’ve all grown up with the guys.

No longer feeling as though we’ve outgrown the sound, it is instead that Pelant and Alfano’s hunger, the motivation in self-growth of all the guys as they grow individually as well as a band. More than “Ribboned Skies” being a song that they say is “fun to do,” it continues to prod and excite the ear, endures the road ahead just as the guys drive along the highway. Retaining awareness of their home in Minneapolis, awareness of their sound and what continues to inspire, which is as Pelant says perfectly, “a composite of relationships past… but really just going to places in my head.”

Not forgetting, nor dwelling. The kind of sound and inspiration that feels more profound than it needs to, but is what is most needed for many ears. The alertness to notice what lingers, but the transfiguration to keep looking forward and seeing what’s next.

Night Moves wraps up the first stint of their stateside tour this week before jumping across the pond in October for stops throughout Europe; and they’ll be back to good ol’ U S of A in November.

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