This past weekend, Chicago’s DIY rock heroes Twin Peaks proved that you can go big and go home, with an incredible three night, sold out run at Pilsen’s Thalia Hall. Taking over the historic building from Friday night through New Year’s Eve, Twin Peaks not only cultivated a diverse support bill of local up and coming acts, but all three nights included an intricate stage set up and special appearances that celebrated the current Chicago music scene. One of the band’s latest songs from their Sweet ’17 Singles series “We Will Not Make It (Not Without You)” acted as the theme of the weekend, paying homage to the friendly and familiar dynamic of the Chicago scene; a dynamic where artists lift up fellow artists in the buzzing collective of talent that the city has to offer.
The first night of the weekend’s all local lineup began with Sun Cop music, followed by Knox Fortune as the main support. The brainchild of musician and producer Andrew Humphrey, Sun Cop’s set immediately displayed the attitude of friendship and supportive nature that threaded throughout the weekend, with Twin Peak’s Colin Croom joining Sun Cop’s live band lineup for the night. Croom’s appearance on stage proved to be another common theme, when he also joined Knox Fortune for his biggest show in the city yet. Although Knox Fortune has attracted attention over the past couple of years working with the likes of Chance The Rapper, singing the hook on the hit “All Night,” he only played his first official show in November this year; a sold out headlining set at Lincoln Hall. Knox Fortune’s set highlighted this city’s ability to show support and collaborate across genres, and it also featured a special appearance from his frequent collaborator Joey Purp.
Twin Peak’s set on night one set the bar high for the entire weekend, but each night only got better, with them continuously delivering the high energy and rambunctious sets that their fans have come to know and love, with all sorts of surprises. Twin Peaks is already unique enough with their lineup in that they all pitch in to write the songs, and four out of the five members alternate singing lead and are multi-instrumentalists, but these shows featured an even bigger and more layered sound than what the core members can create on their own. Joined by a horns section and local duo OHMME singing backup, Twin Peaks filled the Pilsen concert hall beautifully. The production of the night also added in another facet to these special shows, with props including pine trees and an actual motorcycle suspended from the ceiling. Of course, the night also ended with a shower of confetti raining down on the audience from the balcony.
Night two only amplified the magic of the previous night, with a whole new set of support acts and another fun spirited crowd ready to reciprocate the energy that all three bands exuded from the stage. Warming their fellow Chicagoans up on the frigid Saturday evening, trio DEHD captivated the large room with their retro garage rock tunes. The group includes NE-HI’s Jason Balla and Lala Lala’s Emily Kempf taking turns on vocals, and drummer Eric McGrady forgoing a full drum set to create a unique setup with floor toms. Next up, psych rockers Post Animal cranked up the volume, performing some of their most popular songs like “You Were Not There,” “When I Get Home,” and “Special Moment” with refreshed and fleshed out arrangements that showcased their skills as guitarists. Post Animal supported Twin Peaks for one of their Thalia Hall shows last December, and have since had one hell of a year, touring with Twin Peaks, WAVVES, White Reaper, and recently announcing their signing to Polyvinyl records. The local scene and now the national rock scene have come to love the group for their massive stage presence and ability to shred on the six string, and their set on Saturday only got even more bold when part-time band member Joe Keery made a rare appearance for the last song in the set. With Post Animal, it seems you can never have too many guitar players.
Twin Peaks’ second set of the three-night stint once again featured the same expanded lineup, as well as the confetti and custom stage setup, but the band did a great job at diversifying their setlist each night. Every night, the set heavily featured a lot of the group’s latest material that has come around the past several months as part of their Sweet ’17 Singles series, but they rearranged the order each night to keep the crowd guessing. One of this year’s singles “Shake Your Lonely” features vocalist and friend of the band’s Marisa Nakamura on the studio version, so of course they brought her out every night to sing it with them. Each night also had the Twin Peaks staples like “Making Breakfast,” “Butterfly,” and “Walk To The One You Love,” but the band mixed in some rarities to all three sets. On Saturday, they also ended with another staple “Boomers,” although they played it second on the first night and in the middle of the set the third night.
Just like that, the final night of Twin Peaks Thalia takeover fell upon the city, and another sold out crowd quickly filled up the concert hall on Sunday night. Thanks to the Twitter humor of the NYE performers NE-HI, every concert-goer that evening had the opportunity to chow down on a complimentary Chicago dog, courtesy of Goose Island. With full bellies, the crowd watched Today’s Hits kick off the show at 9PM; their set once again highlighting the friendly nature of the local music scene, as both Cadien Lake James and Colin Croom dropped in during Today’s Hits short set. Today’s Hits lead singer James Swanberg returned the favor later in the night, making an appearance during Twin Peaks’ set.
Hot dog heroes NE-HI took the stage next, lead singer Jason Balla taking the stage for the second time that weekend. Like most of the artists who were a part of this NYE weekend extravaganza, NE-HI have also had an incredible year, touring nationally, releasing their sophomore album, and performing at Pitchfork Music Festival. The four piece put on an unforgettable show every time, with Balla thrashing and jumping around as he sings, while other members James Weir and Mikey Wells follow suit and gain some serious air while leaping around. Their set featured a mix of songs from their self-titled debut, 2017’s Sophomore record (Offers), and some new material.
Twin Peaks’ final set of 2017 began just an hour before midnight and once again had some rarities and a rearranged order in their setlist. The crowd surfing commenced during the first song and lasted throughout the night as it had the previous two nights, but everyone seemed to be giving even more of their energy back to the band since it was their last show of the year. The show paused right before midnight with a collective countdown between the band and the crowd, followed by confetti and some giant balloons entering the pit. The show continued on into 2018, wrapping up with the weekend’s theme song “We Will Not Make It (Not Without You),” which bassist and vocalist Jack Dolan dedicated to everyone in the room. Even more confetti showered the room as the song wrapped up, providing the weekend’s final surprise.
Twin Peaks’ weekend at Thalia Hall celebrated more than just the new year and a fresh start; it celebrated the creative community of Chicago and promoted kindness and friendship among artists and fans alike. These shows had a revitalizing energy and an unwavering spirit that you can only feel while watching live music played by a group of friends, with all your friends. 2018 holds even more promise for more nights like this in Chicago as so much of the city’s music scene continues to grow.
Relive some of the magic of the weekend by checking out our galleries of all seven bands from across the weekend.
Knox Fortune and Sun Cop shot by Christian Heinzel. All other photos by Rachel Zyzda
Keep up with Twin Peaks in the new year by checking out their upcoming tour dates here, and grab the record of all of their Sweet ’17 Singles in the shop next month. You can also preorder your copy here.
Article originally posted on ANCHR Magazine