Thursday night at the Doug Fir had three bands lined up who’ve all taken the rock genre and formed it into their own idiosyncratic style. The headliner Twin Peaks and opener Modern Vices both hail from Chicago, Illinois, a hub for creative artists alike.
Modern Vices started the show with a vigorous set that displayed their distinct 50s, garage rock sound and skillful musicianship. Alex Rebek’s vehement vocals captured the room’s attention and the band’s percussions maintained it through dreamy guitar riffs and thunderous drumming. For a band that’s only been around for two years and has only put out one full length album, their set showed an impressive amount of finesse and proficiency.
After Modern Vices’ stirring performance came garage rock band White Reaper from Louisville, Kentucky who jumped out with a full force of energy. Before they even started playing, keyboardist Ryan Hater moved his head back and forth with eagerness as he chugged his cheap beer. Frontman Tony Esposito came out dawning white leather boots, a light washed jean jacket over a classic car printed shirt and an american flag bandana tied on his leg, completely embodying a punk rock Dukes of Hazzard.
White Reaper was immediately ready to rev up the crowd with their unruly power chords and rowdy stage presence. Esposito roared into the microphone as the band took full use of the stage’s space, walking and playing side by side and standing on the front speakers. Fans danced to tracks from their second album White Reaper Does It Again with “Pills” and “Make Me Wanna Die” getting the biggest responses. But, the crowd was almost too still for the band as bassist Sam Wilkerson commandingly urged people to go wild to their music. The crowd took up their challenge and immediately started to mosh as they played “Half Bad,” a track from their self titled debut album. When the crowd’s movement was finally on par with White Reaper’s, Wilkerson took the opportunity to do stage dive into enthusiastic arms. The band left the stage with victorious smiles and Wilkerson left his bass into the audience’s fervent hands.
Over the last three years, Twin Peaks have honed their sound to be a unique blend of pop, garage rock and americana. Their songs about loneliness, drugs and even death are crafted with a lighthearted undertone to give one the sense that, no matter what, everything will be okay. The last time Twin Peaks graced Portland with a show was at Music Millennium for an intimate record store performance which preceded their sold out gig at Edgefield as openers for Portugal. The Man and Cage The Elephant. This time being at the Doug Fir, they’ve seem to have found a happy medium between the contrasting venues and a place where they know how to dominate a stage.
The band began with “Butterfly,” a song that begs for a crowd’s backing vocals. Their animated movements filled the room with vitality and people pushed to the front of the stage. Drummer Connor Brodner clashed his sticks together and shouted a count off before beginning the next song, a move that would occur throughout the night and led each member to strike down on their instruments with celestial force. Frontment Cadien Lake James and Jack Dolan bellowed into the mic and picked their guitars splendid vitality.
Clay Frankel dawned his signature white, oval guitar and at one point took a swig of his water before spitting it out towards the crowd, their arms open with embracement. Fans swooned to the openings of “Walk to the One You Love,” “Holding Roses,” and “Irene” but danced into each other when the band picked up the tempo and made their instruments rage with intensity. The rockers crooned in sync and clearly showed that they weren’t just there to perform for a crowd but to jam with friends.
Because their tuneful songs don’t surpass the four minute mark, fans got to indulge in a 19 song set taken from each of their three albums. But, even that amount didn’t seem like enough for the crowd as they pleaded for more the minute the band signed off.
All photos were taken by Veronica Rose.