Recently, I was given two excellent music recommendations: one was for Tristen's show at the Hi-Dive, and the other was for a track by MVSCLES, "sweet n sour." Both were excellent recommendations for different reasons, but there is nothing that one has in common with the other except that they happened to be good recommendations. Any good advice or personal endorsement is something you can't help but give away when you have it, but seems like such a gift when you get it. Have you tried this great burrito place (Veggie breakfast burritos at Taco de Mexico)? Do you watch this great new show (The Newsroom, y'all)? Have you heard of this great music festival in town (UMS!)? I like how this MVSCLES song is about knowing what something is because you know what it isn't. Tristen's show last Tuesday wasn't very crowded, it didn't end very late, and the opening band wasn't trying to make you feel better about how sad and lonely you may be. It was great.
The evening started with Conor and Ian Bourgal, the brothers that make up The Changing Colors, taking the stage. They immediately began their set without need for introduction for the five or so people that had made it into the Hi-Dive at that moment. The Bourgals have a sense of humor. While the songs he sings are somber, Conor is able to speak bluntly about his craft. Being able to laugh at yourself means things are not as bad as your songs make it seem. In between songs, Bourgal mentioned "I like to write sad songs. And love songs. And sad, love songs." Songs about coffin races, as well, he explained for "No Wedding" which is a track off of their 2010 album Ghost of Red Mountain. But the band smiles, takes requests for "more sad songs" and lists Nirvana as their only musical influence on their Facebook page. I know a couple of jokesters when I see them. The Changing Colors played a few new songs from a yet-to-be-released and unnamed album. One such song was a little number Bourgal mentioned was inspired by a Tom Petty documentary; you would think this may have broken the sad, love song trend but you would be wrong. One Bourgal left the stage, and the remaining Bourgal went unplugged and sat on the edge of the stage for an intimate, sad song to end the set. If you feel like taking a moment to think about death, sadness and/or love lost during the UMS festival next weekend (or anytime in the future), give these bros a listen.
In a white collared shirt, Tristen was a dapper package of adorable: her shiny, short tap pants to match her cropped hair-do, with a bolo tie to wrap it all together. Simple,yet elegant, like a singing Audrey Hepburn with a country accent. Too. Cute. Even more endearing was the fact that a good deal of her family was in attendance for her show that night; after her first song "Save Raina," she addressed the crowds by first saying hello and then asking "How is my family doing?" which warranted a response of roughly half the audience. So here's an interesting "Would You Rather . . ." scenario: would you rather perform in front of a crowd of strangers or a crowd of your family members? Tristen pulled it off well with both, as she twirled around the stage while singing a song about gangsters ("No One's Gonna Know") and seamlessly transitioned from various instruments in between songs.
Tristen's on-stage band members were Buddy Hughen on guitar (he was introduced as a Denver native), Jordan Caress on bass, and Doris the Japanese drum machine. Apparently Doris is thirty years old, but she carries herself well; the songs Tristen performed lacked nothing from the synthetic fourth bandmate. Hughen and Caress harmonize excellently with the pint-sized singer, whose perfect vocals sound just as clean and precise as Doris' percussive rhythm. As cute and Tristen is, she is not singing songs that disclose any sort of "cute agenda;" one of her new songs called "I Can't Get No Stimulation," which she unabashedly introduced to a dozen or so family members. She may look like your kid sister but the adult themes in her music demand respect. I see on Tristen's Facebook page that the new album, Caves, is due out in the Fall.
Check out a few more photos from the night on the Concerted Effort Facebook page, and make sure to keep your ears open for a great recommendation - you never know when the next one will fall in your lap.