Caitlin Cary knows her band's strengths: "When we're on, we're pretty funny." She's talking about Tres Chicas, the accidental trio that formed in a nightclub bathroom in 1999. Over the next several years, the Chicas played sporadically, occasionally making stops at producer Chris Stamey's Chapel Hill studio to cut harmony-rich, acoustic-textured country songs. A year into it, they realized they had recorded their Yep Roc debut, 2004's Sweetwater. Since, they've toured America and Europe and made follow-up Bloom, Red & the Ordinary Girl in Britain in 2005. Now, they're ready to make a DVD. And there's no place for stand-up like the stage.
Actually, there is the green room. And there's the front door of The Pour House, where Onion Head Monster artist Paul Friedrich and Olympic Ass Kickin' Team bassist Jack Cornell will film the Chicas during a two-night stand this weekend. The band has been sorting through ideas for how the sets should be documented. "I am collecting concert DVDs right now to see what we can't afford to do," says Cary. But even with the small budget for what they anticipate will be an experiment in self-releasing their music, the Chicas have found some interesting plot options for the DVD: They may walk into The Pour House from the open doors of a limousine (or perhaps a 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity); they may let the four-piece backing band play entrance music; and they may let the camera crews into the green room, where, as Cary points out, "the bologna trays are top-notch, let me tell you."
Another choice the Chicas have for this show is whether or not to play an album's worth of new material. The songs are ready, says Cary, but they're going to take their time before heading back into the studio. They're aiming for a release next winter, which should be possible. These songs are the sort that could be finished in four days, says Cary: "The songs are very organic this time, and part of that is all the sudden I feel we are this band."
Indeed, the serendipitous nature of the Chicas' first record and the overseas unit that played on its second meant that developing and documenting a band—aside from the three voices at its core—has been difficult. This DVD is their chance. The singing is still paramount, says Cary, but on stage the Chicas take rock liberties with songs that, on record, are gentle. "We're not afraid to let a song that doesn't rock on the record have a lot more energy or be louder or faster on stage," says Cary. "In some ways, that's the best thing that happens live."
Well, that and the bologna.
Tres Chicas play The Pour House Saturday, Nov. 24, at 10 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 25, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8 or $12 for both shows. Thad Cockrell opens Saturday night's set.