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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Twin Peaks converges on The Frequency with friends and tasty music

Approaching the hole-in-the wall haven that is The Frequency, I could feel some real live music magic in the air. The rest of the square was pretty much dead, but the lull of bright lights and cigarette smoke lured us magnetically towards the end of the block, where we found musicians and concert-goers alike basking in the awesomeness of the first quarter of the night.

Chicago-based VARSITY (all four bands on the bill hailed from the Windy City) opened up the night around nine. When I entered, the club was buzzing in the aftermath of Stephanie Smith’s powerful, wailing vocals over VARSITY’s self-proclaimed “fuzzy” style of pop rock.

Next up, garage rockers The Liqs, followed by NE-HI, took the stage and both bands absolutely crushed it with a contagious enthusiasm of playing fantastic rock ’n’ roll at an authentic venue with their insanely talented peers.

While a friend and I were downstairs finishing up some quick business with Twin Peaks, The Liqs barreled through the doors, one long haired member looking frazzled and holding two pieces of a guitar. “Dude, did you break your guitar?!” a voice called out. “Yeah! Fuck. I don’t know what happened. Shit.” followed by a chorus of “Dude!” cackles and high fives all around.

Upstairs, I hustled over to stage right, cozied up against a set of stage stairs that would eventually come to bruise my bone and take me out of commission for a few days—which brings me to Twin Peaks opening song: Sunken’s one and a half minute “Out of Commission” (hooray for transitions!). It was a perfect take-off: fast, loud and in your face. The mob went ape shit, I got knocked down for the first of many (MANY) times and my sweet, innocent roommates took to the back of the venue for fear of losing any limbs or getting their faces melted too hard.

Sometimes I go to garage rock or punk shows where people are pushing each other and everyone is pissed off because they can’t see or someone is sweating on their back, but the coolest thing about Friday’s show at The Frequency was that amidst the sweat, bruises and screaming, everyone was smiling. This can be explained by a number of factors but I like to think Twin Peaks had a lot to do with the positive vibes. They are excited to be there in their young age and that also makes them exciting to watch. They aren’t jaded by years of living on a tour bus or irked by “those damn teenagers and their cell phones.” They just want to have a good time and hope that everyone else does too.

One thing Twin Peaks has gotten right is their band dynamic. Bassist Jack Dolan and guitarists Cadien Lake James and Clay Frankel write their own songs, bring them to the band and sing them live. This makes their live shows so distinct that each song feels like the opening track of a new show.

James stepped out for the majority of the tracks, leading the chilled out, stoner vibes of tunes like “Stand in the Sand” and “Irene” as well pop rock head bobbers like “Strawberry Smoothie” and “Telephone.” He’s the kind of front man who takes his music religiously serious but at the same time hypnotizes the crowd into a happy, carefree environment.

Dolan brought the punk-natured thrashers like “Sloop Jay D” and “Fade Away” that got the crowd all riled up. He delivered his quick vocals in time with his rhythmic bass and punched out the cheeky lyrics with an uninhibited intensity. He shut the show down with his Sunken hit “Boomers” and joined the many ambitious crowd surfers for a quick ride himself.

Frankel’s got all the cool, Jagger/Reed vibes of an old school rocker singing about girls and music, making the crowd swoon for Wild Onion favorites “Good Lovin’” and “Making Breakfast” and getting our feet moving for “I Found a New Way.” He’s the charmer of the group, chit-chatting with the crowd between songs and flashing his contagious smile throughout the show.

Drummer and backbone of Twin Peaks, Connor Brodner exhibited perfect rhythm, astounding control and an electric stage persona for the only member who didn’t actually speak or sing to the crowd during the show. Between songs, you could see the guys looking to Brodner for some reassurance or a quick laugh to ease the nerves.

The band has an obvious but seemingly unplanned balance of respect for one another, weighed by their collective love and devotion to the music.

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Saturday morning I awoke on my couch with a throbbing headache, sweat-dried hair and a big, blue, limp right leg. I felt many things, but the overriding feeling of gratitude for bands like the four that played at The Frequency Friday night was the strongest. I love rock ‘n’ roll. I love its earliest roots and I worship the legends that have lived and played before us, but I also feel incredibly blessed to be young and alive in a time with so much talent, passion and ungodly fun. Thank you, Twin Peaks & co., for proving to Madison that the indie rock show is alive and here to stay.

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