Sometimes, you go to a show that is so special, so full of energy, that you go home feeling like you just got beat up by multiple people at once, maybe even hit by a car, but you loved every second of it. This was the case on Tuesday, June 28, at the Larimer Lounge, where two Chicago bands, NE-HI and Twin Peaks, created a spitfire of a crowd that was left shouting for more.
NE-HI has found the sweet spot between groovy and garage, rock and raw energy. This four-piece is a rip-roaring good time, with minimal but powerful lyricism infused with the thrumming power of a revving motorcycle. NE-HI knows how to inspire the attention of an audience in a way that doesn’t rely on wild acts of showmanship alone, but on pure musical talent. The band, recently signed to Grand Jury (with the likes of Day Wave, Hippo Campus, and yes, Twin Peaks), has cemented a new following in Denver after their performance—as soon as NE-HI hopped off the stage after their 30 minute set, the crowd chattered to each other in unsurprisingly impressed tones. Vocalist and guitarist Jason Balla was lightning on the stage, and bassist James Weir played with a thunderous purr—NE-HI played some older material from the band’s 2014 self-titled, and the crowd couldn’t have loved it more.
There must be something in the Chicago water because headliner Twin Peaks seems born from the same, chaotic power as NE-HI. Fresh off the recent release of “Down In Heaven”, the band’s third full-length, and a performance on Conan O’Brien, Twin Peaks generated enough energy to power a small city.
The set list included a well-balanced mixture of tunes from each of the three albums, including favorites like “Making Breakfast” and “Walk to the One You Love” as well as some lesser-known, but still excellent songs such as “Irene” and “Wanted You”.
Clay Frankel, guitarist, was a red-hot cannonball—chugging a beer for him seems easier than chugging water, and the crowd just eggs him on. Cadien Lake James has a command of the stage that sends people pushing to the front in order to be part of that special connection, and Jack Dolan shines on songs such as “Fade Away” where he can jam on the bass and be his gritty, raw self. Twin Peaks seems to get better with each performance, and this is coming from someone who has seen Twin Peaks nearly every time the band has come to Denver.
Both NE-HI and Twin Peaks showcase some of the best rock spirit in 2016, and there is no evidence of this stopping anytime soon. For now, listen to both bands on Spotify to get a taste of that Chicago sound.