Touring the US east coast in support of The Sadies, Welland, ON singer-songwriter Julianna Riolino was excited to share her unique brand of indie-punk and cosmic-country music at Club Café in Pittsburgh recently. Having earned her stripes primarily as a long-time member of Daniel Romano’s Outfit, Julianna (guitar/vocals) was more than eager to share tunes from her stunning 2022 debut solo “All Blue” album (one of my Top 20 albums last year), and brought Outfit pals Roddy Rossetti (bass) and Kenneth Roy Meehan (drums) along for the ride.
Commencing the show solo – just vocals and her Fireglo Rickenbacker guitar – for “Thistle and Thorned,” Julianna needed very little time to warm up the room, and by the time the drums and bass kicked in midway through, all eyes were on this trio. Barely catching their breath (nor allowing us to catch ours), and with no pause for audience applause, the band transitioned immediately into “PAL” (the only non-album track), providing a quick one-two punch that had everyone’s attention. “My name’s Julianna Riolino and I appreciate you coming out early,” she offered following this intro. “You’re good” came the response. “You’re very good,” came another.
The trio would stay true to the “All Blue” material for the duration of their set, cranking out seven more tunes over the 30-minute duration (and would return to join The Sadies on stage later that evening – check back soon for our recap of that event to learn more). “We’ve been on the road with [The Sadies] for the past couple of weeks, and it’s been great, and we’re reaching the end and it makes me a little bit sad. But all good things come to an end, right?” Julianna would share mid-set. “Everything is balanced, there’s a yin and a yang, life is about balance. If I want to eat a whole box of Cherry Blasters – are those a thing here? Cherry Blasters? Sour Patch Kids? If I want to eat a whole box of those, I’m gonna feel sick to my tummy after, you know?”
Each track was delivered flawlessly, from “If I Knew Now” to “Lone Ranger,” and the tempo clearly erred more towards garage rock over indie-alt-country. Even the performance of SXM radio favorite, “Queen of Spades,” had a noticeable increase in timing and pace, clocking in much faster than the pedal steel infused studio version. “We’re doing this as a three-piece, and it feels really good,” Julianna would share, after discussing their Outfit roots. “We’re happy to be doing it this way.” She would also precede “Long Feeling” by quoting the opening lines, and adding an explanation to the song’s theme: “Long feeling / Trepidation and needing / All desires fleeting / And hollow in whole. This is a long rant … to a man … who doesn’t get it.”
A great 30-minute burst of guitar heavy tunes and powerhouse vocals that primed the crowd for the band to follow. Another artist crossed off my bucket list of those to see live – but ever optimistic that future dates will come (I did not get to hear “You,” another SXM heavily rotated tune, after all). “And it breaks my heart in two / Pieces of a portrait be / Happiness and fragility / May I cast your spell away / And yes I’m holding on to love / Like a peaceful alabaster dove / And who am I to you but a glove / To wear and then take off.”
- Thistle And Thorned
- Why Do I Miss You
- If I Knew Now
- Long Feeling
- Isn’t It A Pity
- Queen Of Spades
- Lone Ranger