I am not talking to Tristen Gaspadarek. I am in the front row at Webster Hall on Thursday. opening for Justin Townes Earle,and I still can't get a decent pix because the lead singer of her self-named band Tristen, for some obscure reason, tilts to one side when she sings and its not my side.
On Facebook, the Nashville based band dub themselves neo-tradionalist pop, in person they are a variation on Rilo Kiley only Tristen isn't as consistent a songwriter as Jenny, and she needs a foil and doesn't have one.
The set is pretty good given the circumstances, stuck on stage for an overlong 45 minutes, the band is game but troubled. Look, Jesus couldn't kill for 45 minutes at Webster Hall if nobody had heard of him, these guys sure can't. Tristen has a certain charm but also a certain awkwardness, and after awhile she seems frustrated., with a wry revealing aside and a snide "I'm gonna ask Justin for his autograph. To put us in our place?
The band reaches its groove with the fourth song, "Matchstick Murder", an excellent, er neo-tradionalist pop, and when they vamp at the close they are really pretty good. Makes you think if you knew the material maybe they would be catching fine. But by the half hour mark, they should be wrapping it up and they keep on going. On "Avalanche" the symphonic pop is built into its DNA and the band stretches itself to good effect.
In my notes I wrote "perennial opening act, but after listening to their 2011, Charlatans At the Garden Gate, I am less sure. It is inconsistent but here and their they are where they need to be. If they signed to a Saddlecreek, somebody would know what to do with them.. A decade after the indie moment they are built for ended, they might just be able to build arrival.
That is, if Gaspadarek doesn't always turn the other way.