Chicago-born band Twin Peaks opened its San Francisco show at the Great American Music Hall on Nov.13 by saying, “This is an old classic, this is our way of saying hello to you.” Proceeding to strum out its 2017 track “Tossing Tears,” the group’s first song really set the tone for the evening. Twin Peaks was bold, it was brash, and it frankly looked like the band was having a great time.
The members of Twin Peaks are your friends from college, or at least it looks like they could be hanging out at an apartment party or coding with high concentration in the back of a lecture hall. The band has this natural attitude, a sort of nonchalance balanced by the presentation of an endearing, genuine friendship between the members, which makes sense, knowing their “meet cute” beginning. A combination of friends from school and next-door neighbors, the five-member group emerged from the Chicago DIY band scene early on in 2010, and now with four studio albums under its belt, its rise has earned the band acclaim that spreads beyond the members’ hometown.
Twin Peaks brought that relaxed gig and house show energy to the Great American Music Hall. The band didn’t seem at all nervous nor to have any fear of the stakes of such a venue, as its members sloshed back a handle of Jack Daniel’s and messed around with each other onstage. About two songs in, one of its crew members threw a stuffed giraffe off of the balcony and into the unsuspecting crowd. As the band introduced its new member, “Goose,” the crowd continued to throw the plush toy around with abandon, even chucking it up to the balcony at times. This only increased its rowdiness and rambunctiousness, adding more fun to the already epic evening.
The crowd started out in more of a glorified bounce rather than a proper mosh, which makes sense, as Twin Peaks started out with its slower, less garage punk songs. It was as if the crowd members had too much energy for their own good and didn’t know where to put it. Twin Peaks responded well, however, by amping up the energy of all its songs, regardless of the usual, simpler mixing, to match its fans’ hankering for an exaggerated use of amps.
The repertoire of Twin Peaks is wide-ranging, causing the crowd to croon and cry during slower songs like “Wanted You” — where almost every person in the audience held their heads up to the heavens in emotional agony — and dance with chaotic fervor to “Irene,” with the whole venue lighting up with laughter and the crashing of sweaty bodies. Even with “Blue Coupe,” which is arguably one of the band’s most traditional indie rock songs, the crowd’s pent up energy led to the eruption of a small mosh, with crowd surfing attempts by a couple of members of the audience.
When Twin Peaks played its most well-known songs, so many members of the audience had simply joyous expressions — their faces lit up, as they recognized the first few sounds of their supposedly favorite songs. Most of its tracks can be described as nostalgic, as the comfort and familiarity of the sounds and lyrics are reminiscent of house shows of years past. When the first notes of “Shake Your Lonely” began to play, the easy lyrics brought large crowd participation, as the band swayed as one with its fans. Many people took their partners by the hand and danced, oblivious to the amalgamation of strangers they were surrounded by. The collective crowd experience was a beautiful sight to behold and a good interlude to the rest of the show.
By the end of the show, the Great American Music Hall had transformed into one mass of people celebrating the triumphant return of Twin Peaks, as the band came out for its encore: a beautiful pairing of “Unfamiliar Sun” and “Oh Mama,” two songs off of its most recent album from this year, Lookout Low. The extremely gentle acoustic sound of “Unfamiliar Sun” was in complete contrast to the intense emotions behind “Oh Mama,” where the whole crowd passionately screamed out the lyrics t0 finish off the evening.
Highlights of the set: “Irene,” “Dance Through It,” “Blue Coupe”
Contact Francesca Hodges at [email protected].