The Eye of the Storm: Alec Gross at The Abington Art Center
Alec Gross and his four-piece band were finally starting to get into a rock ‘n’ roll groove Thursday evening at the Abington Art Center when the storm came in. A wet and grey morning in Manhattan turned into a dry, sunny afternoon in Jenkintown, PA. Gross was praying all afternoon that the sunshine would remain throughout the night.
As guitarist Will Hensley starting shredding during “Zero Sum,” storm clouds gathered over the Art Center. The wind picked up, and the large crowd of families and couples gathered their blankets and picnic supplies and fled the green as the clouds swifty charged toward the stage. The rolling thunder swirled with the cries of his harmonica “I can’t keep from shaking,” Gross sang during “Zero Sum,” an apt lyric for the fear that electrified the crowd.
Within minutes, the rain began, and Alec and his band had to shut down while the crowd hunkered down under the nearby pavillion. However, what could have been a aborted rock concert turned into an intimate evening with a powerful singer-songwriter when Gross ran into the pavillion, acoustic in tow, prepared to keep the show going.
“What a strange but memorable evening this has been,” Gross told the audience as he wrapped up his hour-and-a-half long acoustic set. “As an artist, you rarely get to play these types of shows, where you can connect with the audience on whole new level.”
The majority of the crowd stuck around during the intimate set, transferring their blankets, lawn chairs and rowdy kids to hard floor under the pavillion.
Parents sipped wine under dim lighting while Gross performed a soulful rendition of “If You Don’t Mind (Baby Go Ahead).” The track, recorded on his debut album Strip the Lanterns, is usually a raucous tune supplanted by a sax and a trumpet. Here, supported only by drummer Mason Ingram on a single snare, the ode to a collapsing relationship became a melancholic ballad would remind any listener of past love affair that devolved under the weight of shouted arguments and differing perspectives.
Gross closed his set with “Poor, Poor Me” from his currently-being-recorded sophomore album. Despite the title, Gross was surely not feeling sorry for himself. The grin he flashed the audience when he concluded was louder than any electric rock show played at the park, and the standing ovation he received from the audience was even louder.
View an exclusive recording of “Rose Tattoo” below