By Hanna Marchesseault
If I could name one band that defined high school for me, it would be the Lemon Twigs. After stumbling upon their 2016 album “Do Hollywood” sophomore year, a new avenue of music was presented for me to go down.
Bland suburban life was soon colored by the alt-anthems and rock operas that Michael and Brian D’Addario created. My Nissan Altima (lovingly named Nancy), was filled by dreamy lyrics and xylophone solos only The Lemon Twigs could provide.
On one of their most popular tracks, “These Words,” Michael asks, “Why do I have to follow you to know just who I am?” 16-year-old me was molded by these words (no pun intended), and I finished high school on my own terms.
Fast forward three years and The Lemon Twigs have held their place as one of my favorite bands. This past November I saw (Sandy) Alex G at the Paradise Rock Club, and as my friend and I stretched our legs waiting for the show to start, we saw that The Lemon Twigs were coming in January. We both pulled out our phones and immediately bought tickets.
January 14th rolled around, coincidentally also the first day of classes for second semester, and my two friends and I stood shivering on the sidewalk waiting for our Lyft driver Rony to pull up in his chariot to take us to the show. We were already running pretty late, so we figured this would be a safer bet than taking the train. Rony provided no conversation and a complete discography of Selena Gomez songs for the ride. Five stars.
We were panicking, figuring we would roll up to the show with a line down the block like we’ve experienced before. But as we exchanged our heartfelt goodbyes with Rony, we realized no one was outside the venue at all. The show had definitely started, and we were going to be forced to the back, standing on our tiptoes to witness any action on the stage.
Yet as we entered the long hallway of Paradise, had our tickets scanned and bodies searched, we realized only a few groups were even there. As our eyes adjusted to the familiar haze that fills every small concert venue, we ventured to the stage and immediately found a spot at the front.
We filled time by taking on the role of 12-year-old boys and airdropped random pictures to people around us. Please don’t tell the cops.
As spaces soon filled behind us, we began to see figures enter the stage. Opening for The Lemon Twigs was Jackie Cohen, a California-based artist accompanied by her band. Playing bass was her husband, and Foxygen frontman, Jonathan Rado. This was something we didn’t even realize until the train ride home. You could say we were mad.
Cohen immediately demanded our attention, effortlessly strumming at her Gibson as her band danced around alongside her. Her songs had early Velvet Underground touches, but she quickly defined her tracks as uniquely herself. As her band switched instruments with each other and joked with the crowd, you could tell they loved nothing more than being there with us.
Cohen, with her bright blue eyeshadow and fiery red lips, had us all in a trance. While she tuned her guitar at the end, she had us all repeat a few words back to her. “I am brave, I am loved, I am unique,” and so on. These words lingered in the air until we were back in bed later that night.
After she and the band exited the stage we were already downloading her two EPs.
Ten or so minutes passed and soon the obscene presence that is The Lemon Twigs was in front of us. The D’Addario brothers ran onto the stage, cloaked in pure 70s garb. Michael was even sporting shiny black pumps that I wouldn’t even be able to pull off. I couldn’t see him wearing anything else, though.
The brothers were accompanied by a bassist and keyboardist who both maintained their own presence as vital parts of the band.
The night was filled with Michael performing high kicks and elaborate dance moves around the stage that often made me feel as if I was watching Freddie Mercury. I think they would have been great friends.
The Lemon Twigs sounded nothing like their albums. If anything, they sounded better, and I often found myself holding my breath as they wailed on their guitars and sang effortless ballads. Brian sat down at the keyboard during “The Lesson,” one of my favorite songs off their 2018 album, “Go to School.” As he started off the song with the line, “It’s best to not breathe at all,” I realized that was exactly what I was doing.
It seemed every worry I had washed away as I listened to their set, and when they finally thanked the crowd after their encore and exited the stage, I wasn’t even sure what time it was. My friend quickly snagged the set list, and we floated out the doors.
Riding the train back home, I thought back to 16-year-old me sitting at the beach in Nancy the Nissan, worrying about what lay ahead. If only she could see me now.