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Photo by Meghan Allis

Election eve at Joe Squared: less politics, more music

The election is looming over the modest crowd at Joe Squared on a sleepy Monday night, but there is little talk of either candidate tonight. Each person here is waiting to hear Andrew Grimm, Rye Pines and Carpetbagger.

The smell of pizza wafts through the air, occasionally accompanied by the scent of whiskey. There is a buzz of conversation, old friends catching up and new acquaintances being made, that quiets as Grimm gets ready to begin the night.

Nearly everything about Grimm is understated, which is something he said he’s learned after years of writing and performing. “Less is more,” he said, but this isn’t a sentiment that can be applied to his talent. He has a skill level and a comfort in his performance that can’t be replicated without years of experience. He has a heartbreaking cadence that makes it almost uncomfortable to see a couple in the back of the crowd, tangled in each other’s arms and swaying, while Grimm sings not “about love,” but really the loss of it.

Then, Rye Pines take the “stage” which is really just an area rug at the front of the room. The Boston band has a much different energy than Grimm. They’re louder, faster-paced and younger, which could be why someone bought them a round of shots during their set. Where Grimm makes music that is perfect for the coldest winter day, Rye Pines make music that sits comfortably between summer and fall.

The band, who released sophomore album “Dead Ocean” in June, was excited about their first time playing in Baltimore and Charm City seemed to welcome them as well. They put a jump in the audience’s step, even if their music still has sad and angry elements. 

Carpetbagger finished the night with an incredible set. Guitarist/vocalist Cody Harrod and Drummer Tyler Horton have always worked well together creatively (they were both members of Flagship) but now they’ve really outdone themselves. Major credit has to be given to Harrod who showed up fresh off of a colonoscopy.

Their music brings together many different elements, is well-written and well-performed. There is a clear influence from Grimm and Tom Waits can be heard in Harrod’s vocals, but there is so much more to it than that. They are gritty, bluesy and, sometimes, southern. All of the time, though, they’re interesting. 

The night was filled with very different musicians, though they worked well together, each building up to the next almost flawlessly and ended just where it began: light chatter taking over the bar and the smell of pizza still breezing through.

Find their music here:

June Star (Grimm) –

Rye Pines –

Carpetbagger –