Oak Cliff-based rock band The Bralettes and the new lineup of the Austin synth-pop band Technicolor Hearts graced the stage at the recently reopened Rubber Gloves venue for Thin Line Fest.
Each band has three members but both trios manage to pack a punch that pulls their audiences in.
The original version of this “art pop” group played its first show on Nov. 11, 2011. Founding member and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Salazar recently joined forces with bassist Carter Greeves and singer Merri Palmer to breathe new life into the band. Though their Friday night performance at Rubber Gloves was their fourth show together, they played with the chemistry of a seasoned band, which could be attributed to the fact that they have been friends for some time.
“We have a pretty decent history as friends and collaborators,” Greeves said. “I’ve worked previously with both [Salazar and Palmer] in a recording studio and situations like that. [Palmer and I] were both superfans of the first incarnation of Technicolor Hearts.”
Palmer said being a member of the band after having been a big fan is intense and exciting.
“[The band] has more focus,” Palmer said. “We usually have a goal in mind when we get together, opposed to just hanging out. Even when we would hang out before, music would happen sometimes anyway but now it is very intentional.”
Palmer and Salazar performed with colorful jewels on their faces, physical representations of the band’s new direction.
“In its first iteration, Technicolor Hearts was a lot of glitter and a lot of cool, kitschy things,” Palmer said. “This round, we [asked,] ‘How can we make it our own?’ and I think the jewels have been good for us.”
Salazar has played in numerous bands over the years and Palmer is a part of another band, Color Candy, which plays Elliot Smith-inspired ’90s rock.
“I’ve been writing songs as long as I can remember,” Palmer said. “My first memories are writing songs as a kid. I’ve really had a lot of experience with what I want out of a band.”
Greeves said he was a late bloomer when it came to music. Now, it is a large part of his life, since he works as a sound engineer and producer and plays in Technicolor Hearts.
“Music has always been my passion but for a long time it was as a listener,” Greeves said.” “It wasn’t until I had a heavy breakup when I was 17 or 18 that I started playing. [I] was never really good but I was really passionate about it so I got into recording and studio work.”
Vocalist Paulina Costilla, bassist Molly Hernandez and drummer Andy Cantu call their band a family affair. Costilla’s brother is Hernandez’s boyfriend, and Costilla and Cantu have known each other since middle school.
“Andy and I bonded over music,” Costilla said. “That is how we became friends. We noticed that we liked the same music and then we started going to concerts together.”
Costilla said it was difficult for her to sing in front of crowds of strangers at first because she said she is naturally shy.
“I think between the three of us, it took me the most to even open up,” Costilla said. “Whenever we first started, I was more closed off and like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m scared. I don’t want to get on stage. They’re going to judge me.’ After you play so many shows, you get used it. You’re here to have fun, this is what you like to do. Stop being scared. If you’re scared, you are only hurting yourself.”
Cantu said she endured the same initial stage fright but after a few performances, she said she began to wonder why she was ever afraid.
“If I would have just put my whole heart out there, then everyone would have liked it,” Cantu said. “If you pretend like you know what you are doing, everyone is going to receive it [well.]”
Hernandez said with The Bralettes, being an all-female band can invite people to judge them even more.
“When we first started, [crowds] judged us a lot because we didn’t really know our instruments well,” Hernandez said. “Now that we have gone a little bit further, grown a little bit more, it’s like ‘Oh, they’re girls,’ and it catches their attention for a little bit but it’s up to us to hold it.”
Hernandez said being in The Bralettes has been a creative outlet and served as a way to express herself.
“I get to write songs or help write songs and I sing sometimes,” Hernandez said. “It makes me feel good [and] it’s a bonus that we have gotten positive feedback and encouragement.The most difficult part is it’s hard balancing my work life. I really try to give [The Bralettes] my all, but working and balancing being an adult gets tricky.”
While the trio said they are still working on being comfortable on stage, interacting with people in the audience helps them embrace the moment and have fun while performing.
“We try to power through, make sure we just keep moving and try to create a lot of positive energy so other people want to dance and move around,” Hernandez said. “I like to have people in the front. I want to have people as close as possible. It’s a little harder when we aren’t playing in our hometown but it’s always fun. It’s a pleasant surprise.”
Featured Image: Bassist Molly Hernandez of The Bralettes sings at the band’s show at Rubber Gloves on Saturday. Like the other members of the band, Hernandez lives in Oak Cliff. Image by: Ashley Gallegos.