Tripp Wallin has been an active performer and prolific creator of music and performance art since he moved to Denver from Tucson in 2002. When he said that his next Tripp Nasty show on Wednesday, March 23, at Club Scum would be his last, it came as a bit of a surprise. Not because his act has been incredibly popular (though much less lucrative), but because he has, in fact, been so active for so long, well after many people in bands set aside their passion project in favor of other pursuits.
Growing up in Tucson, Wallin's first concert as a performer was as part of the high-school mariachi bands that backed Linda Ronstadt for her 1987 live debut of Canciones de Mi Padre, a record of traditional mariachi music.
At the end of high school and on into the '90s, Wallin played in various bands, most notably the Duarte Six, an instrumental-rock band that toured with San Diego's legendary tribal/experimental band Crash Worship in 1997. On that tour, Wallin got his first taste of Denver when Crash Worship and the Duarte Six performed two nights at the Aztlan Theatre.
Wallin found Denver to be more low-key and friendly than his home town, so he moved to Denver with then-girlfriend Sybil Clark. He quickly found his people, fellow weirdos, after he saw his first Denver show at the Bluebird and a performance by Mr. Pacman. After his friend Bob Log III played at the15th Street Tavern, Wallin fell down the local underground-music rabbit hole and became connected with Monkey Mania and the people who would start Rhinoceropolis, including longtime collaborator Zach Spencer.
Over the past thirteen years, Wallin has been involved in the DIY music label Star Ship Stereo and has played with multiple projects with cachet in the underground scene. He recently restarted a label he co-founded in Tucson called Alta Fidelidad, a short-run lathe-cut imprint whose name is Spanish for “high fidelity.” Maybe names like Dream Wig, Tripp Nasty Orchestra and Bongo Fury aren't on the tip of the tongues of anyone who wasn't there, but Wallin has also periodically played keyboards in eccentric synth-punk outfit Mr. Pacman, including opening the show for Magic Cyclops's release of his most recent record. Maybe Wallin will continue with Mr. Pacman, but he is putting his individual performance persona to rest, at least for the moment.
“The last two years in Denver, I've played a lot of shows, and not that many people have come to my shows,” explains Wallin. “Often I'm on so early that there are people hanging out at the bar not for the show, so they can get entertained at the beginning before they go home. But most of them have been in front of absolutely no one. Fortunately, some of the venues have been nice enough to pay for playing to no one.”
“Every single Tripp Nasty show for the last couple of years has always had to be different," he continues, "and I've prepared for an hour-long set combining music and talking, [which] takes a lot of time and sometimes money. And I've gotten worn out playing to empty rooms. When you go out of town, people are excited because they don't often get to see you. I don't get to play the popular shows in town, just the local shows — which I like. I've done this since the 1980s, and I want to take a break.”
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Wallin will, however, continue to release music through Alta Fidelidad and screen Stoner Witches, a film he made with Jim Compton of Mr. Pacman, when he tours with filmmaker Sara Century on her upcoming tour. But you'll have to come to a screening to see the film.
“I hate that no one will come and assume they can watch it on the Internet,” concludes Wallin. “I made this film, so why do you get to see it for free? So you can critique me and tell me how much it sucks? But if you want to do that, you can come and say it to my face and talk to me about it. It's more fun to see people react to your film.”
Catch this truly unique performer in what may be his final show, which will feature elements of his shows over the years from spoken-word performance, Indian music, his four-track music experiments and, knowing Wallin, what are sure to be some unusual surprises guaranteed to alienate the squares.
Tripp Nasty with Naan Violence, Sister Grotto, 2kwatever and Dugout Canoe at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, at Club Scum, 3547 Brighton Boulevard, donations accepted, all-ages .