Elsie Eastman rocked The Jungle in Somerville with a set list full of songs from her new debut album “Boston” on Oct. 7.
Eastman, originally from Kennebunk, Maine, took inspiration for the album from her young adult years; being 20-something, living in a big city and falling in and out of love with strangers on the subway.
Eastman was supported by three local Boston acts, which helped open the show and kick off the night. Wallace Field kicked off the show with an indie pop set, followed by the high-energy, rock performance by the one-woman band Miss Bones, fronted by June Isenhart and her electric guitar.
The Dead Friends Club absolutely dominated their 30-minute set. Made up of Riley Greenstien, Nyx Hauth, Blake Campbell, Abby Volta and Chris Beller, the group had everyone out of their seats 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 out The Jungle, “a community music club in the concrete jungle,” built in 2019 in an old police car garage. The bar features live music every night, and offers a unique selection of local beers, cocktails and snacks perfect for curing late-night munchies.
The space was exactly what Eastman needed to kick off her debut album era. Decorated with various pride flags and string lights, the open space was the right mixture 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 booked the show only a month or so in advance, and rehearsed for only a short number of 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 having that all work out and sound good was amazing.”
Eastman sang a total of 13 songs, with her full performance coming in at just over an hour. Combining the full eight-track studio album with previously released numbers from her EP, Eastman kept the audience up and dancing.
“I was just so proud of everything that we did,” Eastman said. ”The band itself was so much that we managed to pull together in such a short amount of time.”
Eastman was joined on stage by Greenstein, who played bass and electric guitar, and also served as a supportive roommate.
The Dead Friends Club’s drummer Beller also backed Eastman, and both they and Greenstein helped Eastman bring her music to life.
The stars of Eastman’s band, aside from Eastman herself, were the two string players that added the authentic folk aspect to the set.
Rachel Jayson played viola for the final few songs and spontaneously joined in on the encore. Mark Russell joined Eastman for the duration of her performance on the fiddle.
“I was on a date a few weeks ago at a tiny bar, and this band went on,” Eastman said of the first time she met Russell. “We ended up staying until 1 a.m. because only a crazy person would leave while they were playing.”
Russell played the fiddle for the band in the bar, and Eastman was inspired by his performance.
“He’s probably the best improvisational fiddle on the east coast,” she said. “I took him aside [after the show], my jaw was on the floor the entire time. He’s just this nice Australian guy… and he’s just had this amazing career.”
Eastman invited Russell to her show, and he offered to play on stage with her.
“He came only to the final dress rehearsal,” Eastman said. “We didn’t get to one of the songs, so afterwards we went out on the curb and just played it once. It was beautiful and perfect…he’s really just an amazing musician.”
Eastman sold out The Jungle, and had both friends and family in the crowd to support her success.
Eastman’s best friend Jen Tonti, was there to support her as not only her former boarding school roommate, but also her merchandise manager.
“Elsie used to do coffee houses in high school and I really admired her bravery,” Tonti said. “It’s such a hard thing to put yourself out there and she’s always trusted herself to go on stage and do that.”
It was nostalgic for both Tonti and Eastman, who had played her first concert to an audience exactly three years prior to her performance on Oct. 7.
“I feel like [if Elsie could talk to her younger self] she would sit herself down and say just how proud she would be,” Tonti said. “I feel like she’s always known it’s in her, and it’s just been a matter of time. She’s not that different from when I first met her…she’s always had that spark about her. “
Eastman was elated coming off the stage, and her impassioned performance truly deserved the standing ovation it received.
“People stayed, people really wanted to hear [my album],” Eastman said. “People…were crying and so proud. It felt like a wedding.”
Eastman’s debut album “Boston” is streaming on all platforms now.
Follow Emily on Twitter @emilyhbeatty.