Pile played the Armory – 3/3

Boston favorites Pile headlined a sold-out record release show in Somerville earlier this month, joined by Western MA’s Mal Devisa.

I’ve photographed Pile many times over the years, but it’s been a minute since I’ve written about them. Now seems like an appropriate time to catch up.

Last fall found the band on tour celebrating 10 years of their beloved third record Dripping – a project which almost singlehandedly encapsulates the noisy, offbeat, Exploding In Sound-centric vibe of Greater Allston indie circa the 2010s. But the band has hardly spent the four years since their last proper LP in nostalgia stasis. In the interim, frontman Rick Maguire released Songs Known Together, Alone – a set of his own band’s material reinterpreted as hushed, haunting solo endeavors – and the full band came together for In the Corners of a Sphere-Filled Room, an hour-long improvisational noise/drone project. Both releases seemed to pull at the extremes within Pile’s sound, rooted in nervy post-hardcore but ranging into softer and more abstract territory, and both directly inform this month’s All Fiction. Spacious, deconstructed and heavy all the same, it’s perhaps their boldest collection of songs to date.

Fittingly, the stage at Somerville’s Arts at the Armory earlier this month looked and felt a bit different than usual. Maguire and bassist Alex Molini spent as much time conjuring the atmosphere on synths and keys as they did bashing away at their traditional six and four stringers, and a nearly 20-song setlist dug into some less-traveled corners of the discography – while also covering the entirety of the new record. Absent some of the thunderous rush of their more aggressive material, the trio (rounded out by longtime drummer Kris Kuss) still transfixed, confidently filling out the cavernous Armory space. Pile shows once had a reputation for being…spirited, in a way that often left one with a few new bruises the next day, but the band’s fervent fanbase is clearly willing to follow them down a less push-pit oriented path too. That’s not to say there wasn’t some of the old spirit present though; “#1 Hit Single” – capping off the night – can still kick up some dust.

Scroll below for photos from the evening, including a stirring solo set from Mal Devisa.