December 7th, 2016 at The Sinclair
By: Kara Kokinos and Natalie Luongo
L.A.-based shoegaze group Golden Daze kicked off the night with an ambient set; as the band’s name would suggest, the set was a hazy, lo-fi warmup for Twin Peaks’ signature unpolished sound. The band put a psychedelic spin on songs like “Never Comin’ Back”, while more pop-sounding tracks like “Salt” were reminiscent of the headliner’s retro groove. Golden Daze played a short set, a definite win for a show with two openers and a late start time. All in all, they were crowd-pleasers, and while not memorable enough to outshine the following acts, they played a solid and captivating set in front of an eager crowd.
Together PANGEA played next, giving a decidedly unrefined contrast to the previous opener. The band hails from L.A. as well, but did not share Golden Daze’s impersonality and finesse; they played an extensive set that seemed to drag at times. This is often symptomatic of the genre without a previous familiarity of an artist’s repertoire, however, the set pandered to fans of Twin Peaks’ noisy garage rock. Together PANGEA played a loud, fast, and frenzied sampling of songs from their three-album discography with tracks like “Sick Shit” and “Badillac” having the pit moshing and crowdsurfing, as fans of more hardcore rock pushed to the front. Highlights of the set included transitions that slowed the show down a little and allowed the band to show off their endurance and musical talent — something that tends to be hard for more hardcore musicians.
There’s something incredibly tongue in cheek about everything that Twin Peaks does. Whether it’s the quirky little faces drawn onto their drum kit or Clay Frankel’s facial contortions, The Sinclair meets its soulmate every time they come to town. The venue has played host to the band at least three times, most recently during their Down in Heaven Tour with NE-HI and Jimmy Whispers. While I had attended that show, I was not quite prepared for their triumphant return. If you’ve never seen Twin Peaks live, it should be noted that four of the five band members will hit you with blaring vocals and electric guitars/bass while Connor Brodner locks everyone in. When they go into the more improvised, jam portions of the set, there will be a crowdsurfer who kicks you in the head. Oh, and, front row, beware Frankel’s beer spit.
The band excels at writing more tender moments into sloppy rock songs, “Wanted You” is an ode to the band’s ability to take introspection and surround themselves in it. The brilliance of Twin Peaks lies within the incredible moments of energy and grit found in their vocals, whether placed further back in the mix or, often times, stressed briefly on the first line of their chorus, blasting through the sonic sphere already created. You might not have gotten this from their performance – which is not to say that the band is incapable of reigning in their live sound to highlight their writing or reflect their recorded work, it speaks more to their audience’s inability to contain themselves and the band’s desire to match that energy.
The addition of Down in Heaven to Twin Peak’s repertoire has rounded out their set incredibly well. Wild Onion was one of my top albums of 2014, but the band has come a long way from the smaller stages and house venues that the album and its predecessor Sunken bring to mind. Down in Heaven sees the band honing their songwriting, exploring the previously more understated blues elements of their sound and bringing that out with twanging guitars and swinging, sing-song choruses. These elements complement their older material and translate so well to the stage that it is difficult to imagine a Twin Peaks before this sonic transition, but long time fans will be happy to know that they’re still closing their set with “Strawberry Smoothie.”