Elsie Eastman rocked The Jungle in Somerville with a set list full of songs from her new album “Boston” on October 7.
Eastman, a native of Kennebunk, Maine, drew inspiration for the album from her young adult years; being 20, living in a big city and falling in love with strangers on the subway.
Eastman was supported by three local Boston artists, who helped open the show and kick off the evening. Wallace Field kicked off the show with an indie pop set, followed by an energetic rock performance by solo band Miss Bones, led by June Isenhart and her electric guitar.
The Dead Friends Club absolutely dominated their 30-minute set. Consisting of Riley Greenstien, Nyx Hauth, Blake Campbell, Abby Volta and Chris Beller, the group had everyone jumping and dancing. If this show was a house party, they would have made it the party of the year.
In honor of the album’s release, Eastman and three opening acts sold The Jungle, “a community music club in the concrete jungle”, built in 2019 in a former police car garage. The bar features live music every night and offers a unique selection of local beers, cocktails and snacks perfect for curing those late-night cravings.
The space was just what Eastman needed to launch his debut album era. Decorated with various pride flags and fairy lights, the open space was the right mix of open and intimate, which are two words that effectively describe various tracks on “Boston.”
“Best. Night. Ever,” Eastman said of the experience. “Is that cheesy?”
Eastman only booked the show about a month in advance and only rehearsed for a few weeks.
“So I was really proud of myself because it was honestly a bigger project than I had ever taken on before,” Eastman said. “I had never played with a band before, so getting everything to work and sound good was amazing.”
Eastman sang a total of 13 songs, with her full performance lasting just over an hour. Combining the full eight-track studio album with previously released numbers from his EP, Eastman had the audience dancing.
“I was so proud of everything we did,” Eastman said. “The group itself was so big that we managed to get together in such a short time.”
Eastman was joined on stage by Greenstein, who played bass and electric guitar, and also served as a supporting housemate.
Dead Friends Club drummer Beller also backed Eastman, and they and Greenstein helped Eastman bring his music to life.
The stars of Eastman’s band, aside from Eastman herself, were the two string players who added the authentic folk aspect to the set.
Rachel Jayson played alto for the final songs and spontaneously joined in the encore. Mark Russell joined Eastman for the duration of his violin performance.
“I was on a date a few weeks ago at a little bar, and this group kept going,” Eastman said of the first time she met Russell. “We ended up staying until 1am because only a madman was leaving while he was playing.”
Russell played fiddle for the band in the bar, and Eastman was inspired by his performance.
“He’s probably the best improvisational fiddler on the east coast,” she said. “I took him aside [after the show], my jaw was on the floor the whole time. He’s just this nice Aussie guy… and he’s just had an amazing career.
Eastman invited Russell to his show and he offered to perform on stage with her.
“He only came to the last dress rehearsal,” Eastman said. “We didn’t hear one of the songs, so we went out on the sidewalk and only played it once. It was beautiful and perfect… he really is an incredible musician.
Eastman sold The Jungle and had friends and family in the crowd to support his success.
Eastman’s best friend, Jen Tonti, was there to support her not only as a former boarding school roommate, but also as a merchandise manager.
“Elsie used to make coffees in high school and I really admired her bravery,” Tonti said. “It’s so hard to put yourself out there and she always trusted herself to get on stage and do that.”
It was nostalgic for Tonti and Eastman, who had given his first concert in front of an audience exactly three years before his performance on October 7.
“I feel like [if Elsie could talk to her younger self] she would sit and say how proud she would be,” Tonti said. “I feel like she always knew it was in her, and it was only a matter of time. She’s not that different from the first time I met her… she always had that spark in her.”
Eastman was thrilled to come off stage and her passionate performance truly deserved the standing ovation she received.
“People stayed, people really wanted to hear [my album]”, Eastman said. “People…were crying and were so proud. It was like a wedding.
Eastman’s debut album “Boston” is now streaming on all platforms.
Follow Emily on Twitter @emilyhbeatty.