Perched atop a barstool at the front end of the dimly-lit Dozen Street Bar, Tortuga Shades drummer Wylie Sanchez was preparing for a special celebration in what has become somewhat of a Tortuga ritual. With a little help from the band’s leading lady, Nadia Lopez, the animated drummer was applying his tribal paint for the evening’s festivities. A party that had been over a year in the making had finally arrived Friday night as the indie-rock band celebrated the release of their debut EP, Migrations.
The release party began with a solo performance from Anna Roenigk of Born Again Virgins that led into a smooth Americana-Jazz session from The Honey Trap. DIY, do-it-all singer-songwriter, Samantha Lee & The Family Tree delivered the soulful, funk warm up for the Tortuga main event.
The environment inside Dozen Street began to swelter as the crowd of mostly college-aged patrons, decorated in Tortuga Tribe face paint, bright phosphorescent jewelry and colorful hockey masks migrated throughout the bar…an ecosystem fitting for a Tortuga.
Shortly after 11:00pm, smooth electric chords from Gian Diliberto rang out across the venue as the band led-off with the EP’s instrumental closer, ‘Tiny Constellations‘. On this night, Lopez had swapped her customary acoustic for an electric guitar to help carry the rhythm section with Sanchez’s precise percussion. The two minute intro gave way to EP favorite, ‘Shadows in the Sea‘, a lush, jungle-esque pop track with powerful vocals layered over intricate guitar work from Diliberto that showcases the band’s breezy, indie-rock nature.
Throughout the evening, Tortuga Shades interspersed several colorful covers such as ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ between EP tracks to spice up the set without giving away the entire EP at once. It was nearly halfway through their spectacular set before the nostalgic ‘Sycamore Tree‘ hit the amplifiers and in a complete 180 the band chose to blow out the candles on the evening with EP lead single, ‘Wild Mind‘.
Seeing Tortuga Shades live was well-worth the migration to east Austin and the humidor heat inside the eclectic hot-spot of Dozen Street. In its entirety, Migrations is a rich, 5-track mélange of soothing indie-rock, jazzy jungle pop and bluesy singer-songwriter diversity. Tortuga Shades has delivered a strong debut project and a sturdy jumping-off point for a band primed for a big 2018 in the Live Music Capital.
Samantha Lee & The Family Tree
The Honey Trap
Born Again Virgins
Photos by: Valerie Riels @photo.atx