The best part about living within the historic underground music scene is that on a Monday night after three back-to-back classes, work at the student newspaper and doing an interview for an independent project, I can end up in someone’s basement — or living room listening — to Lina Tullgren.
Tullgren is a “little-known New England-based artist” according to The Fader, and started her first night on tour headlining a show at the j house. She and her supporting guitarist Ty Ueda will be up and down the East Coast for the next several months promoting her debut album “Wishlist,” soon to be re-released by Capture Records and now available on cassette tapes and on vinyl.
Monday night shows — although a fantastic way to start the week — are fairly irregular, but this show came with an added twist.
The first three bands played in the j house’s basement as usual, under multi-colored holiday lights and in between support beams. Johnnycola, Ashes to Rain and Horse Jumper of Love all played fantastic sets, but when they were done, everyone headed to the living room.
It was a basement-show first for me: seeing an artist play in someone’s living room. But Tullgren’s two-guitar set up and Frankie Cosmos-esque sound was a perfect fit. Few performances could be recreated to maintain that level of intimacy and palable emotion.
The entire living room was filled with people sitting cross-legged, couple up on sofas and beanbag chairs and leaning against the wall with more show-goers overflowing into the first floor landing. Lights were dimmed and all focus was on Tullgren’s vocals and rhythm guitar and her lead guitarist at work.
The best song of the night was here single “Older” — which is already available on Soundcloud — a sad, slow song about the ubiquitous fear of growing older too fast.
“When you’re a kid, all you want to do is be old. When you’re old, all you want to do is be a kid again,” Tullgren said of “Older” to The Fader, “You force yourself to grow up too fast, and then you look at yourself and wish maybe you’d done things differently.”
With a vibe similar to that of a Frankie Cosmos or Alvvays demo, the tracks on “Wishlist” have simply melodies and a softness synonymous to the genre of acoustic, sad-girl music.
Another important quality of Tullgrens music is that it’s unrushed: every note has time to be heard and ring out completely. Without aiming for perfection or absolute clarity, the effortless strumming and picking of both guitarists creates a sense of emotional importance that in synthesis with the though-provoking lyrics transforms the simple work of Tullgren into a truly sublime experience.
Tullgren and Ueda can next bee seen in Virginia and Pennsylvania before they head to head to Canada and then finally close out their tour in New York City in early March.