WASHINGTON, October 8, 2013 — About halfway through the Twin Forks recent show in the basement of DC’s historic Sixth and I Street Synagogue, a fan yelled out for the band to play “Screaming Infidelities.” Now for those who don’t know, this isn’t a song by Twin Forks. But it’s not necessarily odd that would request this song. That’s because Twin Fork is fronted by Chris Carrabba who, in a different stage of his career, actually wrote that very song for his solo project/indie rock band Dashboard Confessional.
For those in the know, this back-story factoid made watching him play on stage with Twin Fork an interesting exercise.
Chris Carrabba is a musician who seems simply incapable of standing still. It seems as if there’s always something he has to be doing, and currently that something is Twin Forks. But what makes this more interesting is just how unpretentious Twin Forks actually is.
Carrabba is a musician who at one point was one of indie rock’s brightest faces. He was a constant fixture on MTV and various rock publications with Dashboard Confessional and gained considerable underground credibility earlier with the emo band Further Seems Forever. So Carrabba is very much a known musical quantity today.
This is something that worked in Twin Forks’ favor during their performance here. Given Carrabba’s past success, this seemed like a curious direction to take his new band, but it seems as if that’s just the point. It wouldn’t be surprising to find Twin Forks eventually marketed as a much bigger act. In all likelihood, that’s exactly what they could do and what another band most certainly would do, especially considering the unique sound they’ve crafted together.
Twin Forks is at once different from Carrabba’s past musical efforts, but also somewhat the same, operating along the exact same lines of what people have come to expect from Carrabba over the years.
Twin Forks is very much an upbeat Americana folk band, along with nearly everything that follows from that genre choice. The acoustic pieces in their set here were all quick tempo and uplifting. There’s not a minute wasted, and the band never really slows down. This is perfect music for cutting the rug—a decidedly different path for a band fronted by Chris Carrabba to take. But Twin Forks makes this music absolutely addictive.
Of course, some things are always the same. As with any Carrabba band, it’s the heart on the sleeve lyrics of the songs, certainly a part of Carrabba that Twin Forks refuses to leave behind. Which is a good thing.
One of the cool things about Carrabba, even in a live setting, is the nearly crystal clear quality of his enunciation. Every single one of his lyrics is easily recognizable to anyone in the audience and that, by extension, is a big part of his and Twin Forks’ charm. Played by another band, it’s easy to see how these lyrics could be construed as cheesy and maybe a little too on the nose, but they’re sung with such sincerity by this ensemble that they turn the corner and become almost instantaneously heartwarming. It’s nearly impossible not to be humming along by the time the chorus comes along for its second repeat.
Focusing is on Chris Carrabba is easy. He is the most recognizable member of the band. But the rest the band is what makes Twin Forks such a joy to see live, especially Suzie Zeldon on mandolin. It’s almost commonplace now to feature another string instrument in a folk band, but someone with Zeldon’s skill can really turn a band’s sound on its ear.
Almost predictably, the standout moment of the entire Twin Forks performance showcases this sound when they play “Scrapping Up the Pieces.” This song transforms their already natural folk sound into something like a rousing Irish jig, and the addition of Zeldon’s mandolin really sets this song apart.
Right now Twin Forks’ only recording is a five-song EP, but they’ve hinted at a full length CD coming in the near future. That might mean that shows like the one we took in at Sixth and I could be short lived. But for the time being, shows like this one are simply a lot of fun, giving the audience a ringside seat as Twin Forks finds its artistic footing.
When a band like Twin Forks enjoys playing music as much as they clearly do, any venue where they can perform and share these songs with audiences of any size is always a positive.
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