Words By: Emily Gibson
Photos By: Cody Bjornson
Isaac Newton once said, “What goes up, must come down.”
Twin Peaks keyboardist and resident chain-smoker Colin Croom is a story above the crowd; perched on a thin railing that guards Mohawk’s upper deck. And, I don’t believe it yet, but it looks like he’s planning to jump. He’s waving his arms around in an attempt to get the crowd below him to huddle together and catch him – and then, suddenly, he somersaulted off the railing into the waiting hands of the crowd.
This was how the Twin Peaks show at Mohawk on September 20 ended. For me, it began roughly two hours earlier, when we arrived at Mohawk five minutes before the second opener, White Reaper, was set to go on stage.
I ordered a Lone Star tall-boy and hung out toward the back of the crowd, where a few fans that were really into the band (myself included) mouthed the words, but people mostly just stood and bobbed along. Full disclosure, this was my eighth time seeing White Reaper – the best was a small house show at Helios Co-Op during South By Southwest, the worst was an early-afternoon show at Cheer Up Charlie’s that same week. How a White Reaper show feels isn’t necessarily up to the band, since they’ve consistently brought the same high energy each time I’ve seen them. Seeing Reaper is really dependent on the crowd’s attitude and their willingness to join in on the moshing. But for me, seeing the Louisville-based outfit is always a good time. They make straight up, sexy rock n’ roll, and they want you to get down with it – the keyboardist, Ryan Hater, has urged the crowd to mosh every time I’ve seen them, whether it was noon or midnight. They brought that same energy to Mohawk as they ripped through roughly forty minutes of songs from their self-titled EP and their debut album, White Reaper Does It Again.
There was an eager feeling lingering in the crowd as White Reaper took their equipment off stage and Twin Peaks started to set up. When the band was set up and ready to play, they opened with “Butterfly,” the second single from their most recent release, Down In Heaven. My friends and I danced along and jokingly pushed each other around until staying on the sidelines wasn’t an option anymore and we wedged our way into the middle of the pit.
For a long time, it was a good, rowdy show. The band played for a little over an hour and covered all their bases – highlighting the stuff from their newest album Down In Heaven while playing some of their old tokens, like “Making Breakfast” and “Stand In The Sand.” The band didn’t talk very much – apart from telling crowd that we were the best show yet, which I always take as the “do you want fries with that?” of musician banter – but they found other ways to more intimately interact with the crowd. Guitarist and vocalist Clay Frankel handed his guitar to two people in the front row to take care of while he stripped his shirt, for example. One of the only things the band persistently pursued was an attempt to coax someone in the crowd to give them weed. Don’t worry, someone smoked them up.
Twin Peaks are both intimidating and endearing. They’re clearly talented and obviously cocky, but the way they present themselves on stage – writhing around, screaming, laughing, vocalists Clay Frankel and Cadien “Big Tuna” Lake James kissing on stage – tells that they’re still just a bunch of young Chicago stoners on the ride of their lives.
If the show had ended when they walked off the first time, I would have been happy with it. But when they returned for their encores, it went from a good show to a great one. I could tell shit was about to hit the fan the first time I felt a pair of boots land squarely on my neck, then looked up to see three other people on top of the crowd. The energy built as they began to play again – this time, both parties (crowd and band) seemed almost determined to outdo each other in their insanity. There’s no such thing as personal space anymore – everyone is equally covered in sweat, dirt and mysterious grime. The last song of the night was “Strawberry Smoothie,” one of my old favorites off 2014’s Wild Onion, which starts abruptly with a question: “What you doin’, baby, in the snow?” Then, Colin Croom was climbing up the amp and onto the railing. Bassist Jack Dolan was falling backward onto the crowd and letting them hold him up while he played. Someone from the back of the crowd seemed determined to empty their entire beer can on the rest of the audience.
So, “what goes up, must come down.” That applies to bodies jumping off of railings, but it doesn’t seem like it applies to Twin Peaks, who are riding the high of their third album release and its subsequent tour all the way into forever.