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Tristan Prettyman brought her brand of country-surf-folk-pop to the Belly Up Monday night. Not normally a show I'd hit up on a Monday, but I bought the tickets for my girlfriend the day they went on sale. Turned out to be a good move in a number of ways.

The show sold out and several people were testing the waters for any extra tickets as we waited in line to enter. The Solana Beach venue was suited to the loose and friendly vibe of the crowd and afforded a decent view for all -- even those who, like us, arrived too late the get a seat. The crowd was mostly female, decked out in their casual but classy surf-wear, but diverse in age.

Prettyman and her band opened the set with a couple of radio favorites, including "Love, Love, Love" and "California Girl" (the chorus of the latter was still stuck in my head the following morning).

Between songs Prettyman engaged the crowd and explained that this was a different sort of concert for her: there was no new album to promote and it was not part of a larger tour. She went on to say that she hadn't performed much lately and might be a little rusty. If this was true, it didn't show, except for several reminders to the sound guy to turn up the drums or bass. At one point, according to my girlfriend's sister, she prodded the drummer to pick up the tempo. Aside from those minor distractions, Prettyman and the band seemed tight.

The highlight of the evening was when the band took a break and Prettyman performed solo, demonstrating her seductive voice, tremendous range, and songwriting skills. During this portion, she took requests and introduced a couple of new songs she'd been working on "in Anya Marina's kitchen." "Trader Joe" is a cute if somewhat raunchy story about someone she either fantasized about or maybe actually met at the grocery store chain. The women in the crowd laughed loudly, as if part of an inside joke, at lines like "your pants would look better on my bedroom floor." Prettyman had said earlier that she felt like she was "playing for 600 friends." By the end of the show I felt like one of them.

  • Artist: Tristan Prettyman
  • Show date: December 14, 2009
  • Venue: Belly Up Tavern
  • Seats: Floor
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