being around a couple years, Tristeza has become something of a legend in the indie music
world. The San Diego quintet sports two guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and no vocals.
They've been compared to Pell Mell -- another indie-instrumental outfit -- as well as Sea
& Cake and Paul Newman, with influences that range from Red House Painters to
trip-hop, dub and indie rock.
They were in Omaha supporting their debut album, Spine and Sensory, released
last year on Makoto Records. Recorded with Tim Green (Unwound, Melvins, Bikini Kill), the
CD has been described as a brilliant blend of colorful, mildly psychedelic dream-rock.
They're better suited in the category of meditative bands like Bedhead, Tortoise and Yo
La Tengo. Their forte is producing trance-y, drum-driven journeys that start with simple,
quiet rhythms and chords and build to densely layered sonic paintings that rock, thanks to
Lehner's solid drumming, which was the foundation for everything on stage. With two
guitars playing off each other and an understated keyboard drone shifting with the bass
line, it was up to Lehner to provide a footing that took these urban-dream soundtracks
from beginning to end.
The crowd of about 160 was subdued, almost hypnotized while Tristeza went through its
45-minute set. The only distraction was the half-dozen or so photographers and
videographers crowded around the stage-front, staring through their viewfinders and
occasionally blinding everyone with a flash.
Lehner made it clear that the band had had plenty to drink before they climbed on
stage. After the second to last song, he glanced up from his drums and said, "Thanks
a lot for coming, goodnight." No one was certain if the show was over, including the
rest of the band, who just stared at him as he got up from his set.
"Oh, I guess we have one more," he said, sitting back down and cranking into
their last song. When it was over and the small crowd politely clapped, he quietly said
again, "Thanks for coming out." As the houselights came up, everyone slowly
wandered off. It was kind of weird.
Before Tristeza, Lawrence, Kan., emo quartet Appleseed Cast took the stage, out on the
road supporting their new album, "Mare Vitalis," released last month on
Symbiotic Records. Theirs was definitely a larger, more animated crowd, who chugged along
with the Cast's feedback-laden college rock. Singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci tried
hard to make his thin vocals convey some sort of cracked-hearted emotion (hence the
"emo" label?). His voice mostly got lost in the mix. The songs suffered from a
sameness factor, except for the feedback-filled set-closer, a 7-minute dirge that featured
a strange, spoken-word loop track and Crisci's echoing guitar that droned on and on as
one-by-one the band left the stage.