It was like being in fuckboy church. You know that feeling right? When the band just swallows the audience whole and has you at their absolute mercy?
I mean we were fucking screaming and squawking lyrics along, gushing beer and limbs, shoving each other around to the beat. It was Friday long past midnight at the Echoplex, and the boys of Twin Peaks stood in formation, and bestowed upon us every fiber of their might. The riffs surged through our veins and poured out of our chest, and we prayed it’d never end.
The end felt so short, the beginning, so long. The opening band, Golden Daze, played their lackluster tunes against the projection of an anime urbanscape. That first flaccid hour dragged and I chugged and chugged and still it wouldn’t go any faster. Each song tasted like mild sauce—just never quite getting there—and blended into one slow bobbing melody. Everyone looked tame and mesmerized under the sparkles of two disco balls.
Another beer and two smoke breaks later we heard Ne-Hi strum their first measures and I began to lose my shit. The first time I saw Ne-Hi was in Massachusetts, opening for other Chicago underground legend Supermagical. The show itself was supermagical, taking place in the basement of Jamaica Plain’s Whitehaus. One of the oldest collectives in the DIY music scene in Boston, the walls of the Whitehaus are shrouded in myth and covered from ceiling to floor with collectible choxies expressing decades of identities. That was the exact night I fell in love with Chicago rock and roll.
Whereas Twin Peaks have gained national success and toured all throughout the festival circuit, Ne-Hi is only beginning their break out of the Midwest. The two bands share a sweet bromance, with a heavy tone of camaraderie you can sense all throughout the show. After slowly seeing Ne-Hi rise out of the basement, I’m honored I could see them play in Los Angeles for the first time.
So yeah, I was fucking pumped to see Ne-Hi on the west coast for the first time ever. And they delivered. They lured us from our slumber and played through their rad hit tunes from the self-titled EP. Although their songs are on the slower burning side of the power-pop spectrum, their enticing chord progressions and harmonies are so profound that I still found myself moved by the music and dancing (with my eyes closed).
Twin Peaks shredding in the middle of their set. Photo by Michael Kagan
The premiere of Twin Peaks’s third studio album, Down in Heaven, brought the summer from spring and I spent countless nights in the early May gloom streaming it all the way through over and over. The range of their melodies—a balance of ups and downs—reverberated my own moody vibes.
Since most of Twin Peaks’s songs color the subject of love, it was such a tender set. In the audience we blurted angsty lyrics usually reserved for the shower or car. I squeezed my boyfriend’s sweaty hand during “Making Breakfast” (or “cooking dinner” as they jokingly called it). He kept me grounded against the jolt of the mosh pit.
Twin Peaks sounded better than they do in their live-sessions or even on festival stages. They successfully knew how to play off of the raw energy emanating from the crowd. A proper exchange of give the roll and ye shall receive the rock. In addition, they gifted us with an improvised cover of “Green Onions” while the drummer fixed his kit.
These Midwestern boys possess the raw talent and DIY spirit it takes to become shred legends. They sprinkled Chicago magic on the disco balls and we breathed it in. I prayed it’d never end. After their encore, an impenetrable silence flattened the air (or had the air always been this flat?).
To throw a cherry on top of those sweaty post-show blues, as we emerged from the Echoplex, a silhouette hollered “You down wit OPP?” from their car window. The squad instinctively responded “yeah, you know me,” and we watched the car disappear into the starless night.