I picked up my tickets at will call with my friend, Peter, and we entered into the pretty crowded Turner Hall Ballroom. Crowded is perhaps the wrong descriptive word– the energy was lively and rambunctious, something that felt so refreshing after the recently cold, depressing weather we have been having again. We opted for getting two PBR tall boys as our first drink, something that we could sit on and sip on to enjoy for a little while. The prices were normal. Immediately we are drawn to the front right side of the stage to settle in on a good spot for the show.
Twin Peaks began tuning their equipment, and unfortunately, we missed Olivia Jean (the opener) because of prior obligations. As soon as Twin Peaks got on stage I had no clue what to expect as I hadn’t heard of the band before the show. In less than 30 seconds when they began playing their first song, the band took us through a time-warp to the 1960’s or 80’s, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, where I swear they came right out of some berserk, classic horror flick you could catch at a drive-in movie theater.
Courtesy of Sara Bill Photography
Lead singer, Cadien, would violently shake his head in an unruly manner that made me think he must have been getting some gnarly whiplash. The shaking was surely impressive because he managed to do it for the entire verse, chorus, and bridge song after song. Everybody in Twin Peaks caught my eye because they each had their own distinct flavor to them. They all took turns singing, synonymously eloping with each new song. Clay (guitarist, singer), Cadien (lead singer, guitarist), and Jack (bassist, singer) all possessed three different styles that was well-meshed into a fuzzy, garage band-like style reminiscent of the Rolling Stones—scummy, sweet, and addicting. Their energy was something I won’t forget, like Clay’s body tantrums, spazzing out in his little golf polo and Jack’s eazy-chill, slacker-rock vibe. Dancing came at ease as well as head-bopping and there wasn’t a dull moment. I’ve been hooked on Twin Peaks since and the fact they're from Chicago, so close to home, makes them even more loveable.
Up next was Benjamin Booker, the headliner. At this point I made my way much closer to the stage, practically front row and Benjamin in plain view. Behind Benjamin was his bassist, Alex, and drummer, Max, all members were sporting the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee hats that had been given to them earlier in the day (SO cool!). They were a simple 3 piece set, but the songs weren’t simple at all especially with Bookers soulful riffs and intricately woven lyrics especially apparent in his single, “Violent Shiver.” The vibe Benjamin laid out was completely opposite of Twin Peaks, a more hushed tone which was something I wasn’t expecting, though I had seen Benjamin play earlier in the day at 88Nine.
Courtesy of Sara Bill Photography
Something was spiritual about his set—rough yet calm. The band seemed to be maybe a little exhausted, but this didn’t detract the audience’s attention as fans were yelling and praising him constantly during Benjamin’s slow and soft moments, which only led him to, “Shhhh,” the audience. It was as though he wanted us to absorb and share the brief, intimate moment with him which seemed to have felt like it lasted forever, seconds strung out in slow motion. Fans also constantly screamed, “Mustache” at the bassist as he was sporting a thick, furry, friend above his upper lip—I think he thought it was funny because he and Benjamin kept exchanging smiles every time it was yelled.
The moment I won’t forget is when Benjamin took a step back from the mic, lit up a cigarette which sat between his lips, and closed his eyes for at least a couple of minutes so obviously soaking in that moment. The sound of the chord he strummed echoed vicariously throughout the venue. That must be like the ultimate feeling for an artist, to just feel like somewhat of a Jimi Hendrix for a moment, someone that intently feels the soul of the guitar their holding and completely forgetting a room full of strangers watching them is even there. His spirit kind of reverberated to me and I dug it.
After the show my friend and I stuck around to meet Twin Peaks and Benjamin Booker and his band. Everybody was super friendly and nice. We got Twin Peaks rolling papers and they even gave my friend a free CD. We decided to hang out at Rogues where Benjamin Booker and his band ended up going after the show. It was a fun little adventure and I think we showed them that Milwaukee can be a good time. I did ask the bassist or ‘mustache-man’ what the first word was that comes to mind when he thinks of MKE, his answer was quite simply, “Beer.”
Check out Benjamin Booker's new music video for "Slow Coming":
Check out Twin Peak's single "Makin' Breakfast":