As far as we were concerned, there was only one show in town on Friday night. Not The Toasters at The Muse, not The Oak Ridge Boys at The Ryman, not even Powerbrrrd going gently into that good night at Springwater — Friday was all about Tristen's LP release show, a show more than two years in the making.
After nearly busting our asses on an iced-over sidewalk, walking from what would've been Video Culture's parking lot had (we're assuming) Netflix not drunk their milkshake, we arrived at The Basement to find the party already hopping. Nashville's Dead was spinning Wanda Jackson's “Thunder on the Mountain” single, people were already getting good and drunk — tonight was a night for celebration. Plus, it was sub-arctic outside, so you may as well start drinking in preparation for the most hellacious smoke-break of your night, right?
We did a double-take when we found out that local garage punk Daniel Pujol would open for Tristen. “How the hell is that gonna work?” was our mantra up until Pujol took to the stage around 10 p.m. The answer to that question was “slowly.” Pujol played a super slowed-down set of tunes we're usually pumping our fists and crowdsurfing our drunk friends to. The good news is that, removed from the punk show momentum, these songs still hold up. They're strongly written and well delivered, but we couldn't help but feel uncomfortable hearing them in this context. People were sitting down! Nobody was screaming the lyrics back at him during “Black Rabbit”! Everybody was all polite and shit! It was like being in a parallel universe where, we assume, Joe Marc's Brother is the great white hope of local punk.
Tristen quickly followed, taking the stage with her band of late — Jordan Caress, Buddy Hughen, Rollum Haas and Ryan Norris — to play the entirety of Charlatans at the Garden Gate. The trouble with having seen Tristen play these songs so often over the past couple of years is that we've developed a muscle memory for the little bits we loved that no longer exist, after the gradual evolution of these songs. We miss Larissa Maestro playing cello on “Heart and Hope to Die,” and we miss Ben Martin wailing on the drums, but we've got to get down with the fact that those beats probably aren't coming back anytime soon. Still, we know we're going to hear a quality performance from Tristen (the vocals at the end of “Save Raina” get us every time) and these already damn fine songs keep evolving in positive directions — Jordan Caress' bass parts in “Eager for Your Love” subbing for the strings caught our ear in the best way possible. That, a cover of “My Kingdom” by Echo and the Bunnymen and birthday cupcakes makes up for a pretty successful album release show.
After Tristen packed up, A Country Gentleman, featuring Matt Moody's beard, brought the night home with comforting East Nashville-bred psych folk. If Pujol was the wildcard support act, then A Country Gentleman was the obvious choice, if only because of the inclusion of Battle Tapes' Jeremy Ferguson, who spent a solid chunk of his life recording that album. If anyone deserves props, and maybe a couple of those cupcakes, it's that dude. The room, which was packed by the time Tristen hit the middle of her set, had cleared out by the time they were well into their set of alt-country-folk jams, but we found it to be a satisfying denouement to a satisfying night. Now we're going to have to find another local artist to wait two years before they release their album. Any takers?