Last night, Lissy Trullie arrived at the Mercury Lounge for what should have been a triumphant return. Trullie played a similar, well-publicized CD pre-lease show at the Mercury way back in early February, 2009. That show felt more like a coronation than a celebration – fans packed rafter-deep, media types from The Times, The Voice, The New Yorker and beyond all bandying about. There were even a handful of celebrities on-hand to ratchet up the “it” factor.
But that was then, as they say. And this, well, this is now.
All of which might explain why Trullie’s hour-long set last night seemed to lack the crucial energy that made that 2009 show such a hit. I mean, sure, the room had its fair share of critics and fans. But the mood seemed deflated, the crowd seemed subdued, and – more often than not – the applause felt almost forced. National reporters were replaced by a room full of bloggers, many of whom appeared worlds more consumed with shooting grainy cell-phone vids than they did about critiquing, or perhaps even enjoying, Trullie’s set. There was very little fanfare for – and even less recognition of – the half a dozen or so selections from Trullie’s brand-new, self-titled LP.
What the audience clamored for instead was anything and everything from Trullie’s critically-acclaimed 2009 EP, Self-Taught Learner.
Obligatory bursts of nostalgia were few and far between, however, and what filled the gaping voids was very often either silence or the synth-pop sound of Trullie laboring to put her new material over. Lissy’s onstage presence is still remarkable, as is the way she wraps those bony fingers round her Fender, staring out across the room from behind medallion eyes. Yet, the set still ended with a spare, almost non-existent round of applause, immediately followed by Trullie making her way, alone and off-kilter, past a handful of well-wishers, en route to her dressing room … a feat she accomplished rather easily, given the fact most of her initial audience had already disappeared into the night.