By Nick Stalford
I first saw Twin Peaks in March of 2012 when they opened for The Orwells at Great Scott. To be honest, I had gone to the show just to see The Orwells. I hadn’t listened to any of Twin Peaks’s music beforehand, and I didn’t even know what the dudes looked like. My lack of knowledge quickly became evident when I mistook drummer Connor Brodner for a roadie as he set up the band’s instruments, performed microphone checks, and hoisted up a homemade spray-painted banner behind the drum kit. It wasn’t until he sat down and began to play that I realized my mistake.
Twin Peaks is a garage-rock band hailing from Chicago, Illinois, and formed in 2009, while all of the members were still in high school. After graduating and briefly attending college, they dropped out to pursue their musical career and found themselves picked up by small local indie label Autumn Tone Records. Their music is inspired by an unusual combination of 1960s music and modern garage-rock sounds, as well as artists such as The Beatles, The Stooges, Jay Retard, and Ty Segall.
Since 2012, Twin Peaks released their first studio album, Sunken, in 2013 and their most recent album, Wild Onion, in 2014 along with hit single “In the Morning (In the Evening)” in 2015. They’ve played live on Carson Daily, been reviewed by Pitchfork (7.1 and 6.9––not too shabby!), and made their way all across the country playing shows.
After Twin Peaks played a fantastic opening set that night back in 2012, I went home with “Stand in the Sand” stuck in my head. I immediately searched for Twin Peaks on YouTube only to embarrass myself again (I listened to the Twin Peaks TV soundtrack for a few minutes before realizing my mistake). But they’ve come a long way since then and so has my appreciation for their music. Now heading the venue that they opened at three years ago, I think it’s safe to assume that no one will mistake Brodner or any of the other dudes for a roadie.
Compared to that performance three years ago, Twin Peaks has improved immensely, both as individual musicians and as a group. Although they played the same venue, the two shows can barely be compared.
They came on stage around 11:00pm after a great set from openers GYMSHORTS, and White Reaper. As White Reaper finished up their set, lead man, vocalist, and guitarist Cadien Lake James proceeded to remind the crowd that it was Cinco de Mayo as he chugged a few margaritas (sharing generous gulps with White Reaper’s keyboard player), setting the stage for the show to come. He then, to my amazement, quickly and nimbly scooted around stage on his knees and assisted the vocalist in chanting, “Who wants Jabba?!” at the top of his lungs.
As White Reaper cleared the stage, James began setting up, dropping a pile of stomp boxes onto the stage and ripping the duct tape off his guitar case in between some casual conversation with the crowd and more than a few sips of his third margarita. When everything seemed just about set up, guitarist Clay Frankel found himself in need of a pick and received one from a Great Scott employee to whom he complained, “Awww, but it’s so small! Who’s got a big guitar pick?!” With no luck finding a bigger pick, Frankel disappeared from stage and returned to pass out a round of Miller High Lifes to his mates. Then suddenly, without warning, they began to play––opening with their most recent hit single “Flavor.” The crowd roared.
After ripping through the first song, the guys suddenly stopped, as if the song had only been a microphone check. They asked the sound manager to turn everything up much louder, and James commented, “Loud rock and roll. That’s what we all came here for tonight,” signaling the band to start playing again.
From then on, Twin Peaks played straight through their set for a solid hour, breaking only momentarily for a swig of beer, water, or margarita. But unlike their recorded music, which is noticeably smoother and more relaxed, their live performance was undeniably punk to the core––loud and in your face. Flaunting funny faces, wild thrashing, head banging, and dancing from Frankel that I can only describe as like James Brown being electrocuted, Twin Peaks gave the crowd everything they had, both physically and emotionally.
And what punk show is complete without crowd surfing and stage diving? Both James and bassist Jack Dolan lept into the crowd during the final two songs of their set and were momentarily lost within the writing sea of fans in a crowd with no distinguishable mosh pit.
And then it was over. The show ended as suddenly as it had begun. They put down their instruments and walked off stage, ignoring the “one more song” chant, and walked outside for a smoke.
From opener to headliner, Twin Peaks has climbed into the spotlight. Follow them on tour as they head to Canada and then back home for a free show in Chicago, and check them out at http://twinpeaksdudes.com/.