Night Moves rocks Gabe’s with final performance of tour

On Oct. 27, indie band Night Moves rocked Gabe’s for an electric final performance of their national tour.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Night Moves lead singer Josh Pelant plays the guitar during a performance at Gabe’s in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.

Stella Shipman, Arts Reporter

On Thursday night, Gabe’s filled with people swaying and head-banging to indie rock band Night Moves. A small mosh pit gathered in front of the stage to enjoy the music, while other people relaxed at tables lining the wall. Onlookers drifted across the floor beneath the strings of lights hung in the rafters that lit up like neurons. 

Night Moves, a band originating from Minneapolis, played at Gabe’s for the final show of its three-week national tour. This was also the final performance for Shady Cove, an indie rock duo from Portland, Oregon that toured with Night Moves. 

Shady Cove’s opening set consisted of ethereal songs that conjured scenes of long road trips and summer nights. Both musicians played bass and electric guitars, while the lead singer worked off of a soundboard that accented her vocals with echos and an underlying tinny layer. 

The bass shuddered through the floor as Shady Cove played, attracting onlookers to the stage. Each song began with a meditative sound that sent the audience into a dreamy headspace, and then picked up with a satisfying beat drop. When their set came to an end, they went offstage with applause and whistles. 

As Night Moves readied to play, people packed tighter together and moved forward to get a better view. The first song began with a gritty guitar solo that slowly revved up in sound and pitch. A steady drum beat drowned out the noise of an excited audience. 

John Pelant, the lead singer of the band, sent out sultry waves over the audience, slipping seamlessly between notes. Throughout the set, Pelant would casually switch out his guitar for another one or left his guitar altogether for a keyboard and harmonica. 

The harmonica added a bluegrass tone to some songs while the keys jazzed up a piece or blended it with synth. Every instrument onstage blended together to produce one electrifying yet generally mellow sound. 

“I personally love when the lead singer can play other instruments,” attendee Gabby Healey said. “It’s cool to see them hone in on their talents while melting their hearts out.” 

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Pelant introduced many of his songs with commentary. As he described on stage, one song was about “being debt-free, but totally saddled with unbridled joy.” Meanwhile, another song was about being unapologetically “pissed at the world.” Each song reflected its meaning with strong vocals and an emotional ambiance. 

“It’s just painting emotions in the air by way of percussion and synths,” Pelant said, speaking on behalf of the band. “Every song portrays a different scene.”

Pelant and his band members, with Micky Alfano on bass, Charles Murlowski on guitar, and Mark Hanson on drums, moved in sync during each piece, often closing their eyes and leaning into the music. During one song, Pelant folded over the microphone as he passionately belted “Just tell me you love me,” hyping up the audience.

By the end of their set, Night Moves was cheered on for an encore, but had to bid farewell to their tour. They will start off again for another tour of the eastern U.S. in January, but for now, their performance in Iowa City serves as their last hurrah. 

“It was a great experience,” attendee Diego Mendoza said. “Iowa City was lucky to have them.”

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