As timid as I am, I have no shame in screaming the lyrics to songs I know inside and out, or dancing spastically along to my favorite bands. I grew up going to concerts in and around D.C., home to a legendary music scene of its own. I came of age within the walls of the Fillmore and the 9:30 Club, spending countless school nights leaning my arms against a metal barricade. When I think of home, I think of those shows and the invincibility I felt when I attended them.
I was going to miss that sense of belonging when I moved to Brooklyn for college. I was terrified of the reality of moving to a new place. However, an unexpected surprise welcomed me into the city. On August 23, my roommate and I managed to catch the Lemon Twigs at Baby’s All Right for their album release show. The concert was sold out, but just days before it was scheduled the venue released a handful of tickets. I had only recently become obsessed with the duo from Long Island, but their new record Go To School, a rock opera about a teenage chimpanzee, had caught my attention. Even though I was still adjusting to the unfamiliarity of Brooklyn, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
There was magic working in the air the second we arrived. From the street, Baby’s looks like a hole-in-the-wall, but inside, it’s intimate and eclectic. The hardwood floors give it a homey feeling, and the array of neon rainbow lights behind the stage served as the perfect backdrop for the night. We managed to weasel our way a few feet from the stage. There were amps stacked directly to our right, ready to deafen us. When the opening band Purr came onstage, I noticed they housed two members of the indie rock duo Jack and Eliza, a band I had worshipped in middle school. While that project has since disappeared, seeing the two of them still making music was a delightful surprise.
By the time the lights dimmed and the low vibrato of “Go To School” started playing over the speakers, I was beside myself with excitement. The Twigs strided on stage looking as if they had popped out of a vintage Rolling Stone issue. The D’Addario brothers, Brian and Michael, are known for their eccentric outfits, and they did not disappoint. Brian wore a satin baby blue suit. His long bangs hung over his eyes, but his mascara was still prominent in the spotlight. Michael’s dark top was unbuttoned. The biggest gimmick, however, were his jeans, almost completely ripped open in the back. He was going commando and turned around every chance he got.
Although the Lemon Twigs are barely adults, their skill and technique are beyond their years. From the wailing guitar solos in songs like “Queen of My School” to the whimsical keyboard in “The Lesson,” they introduced their new record with unapologetic pride and ease. The D’Addarios’ have a Broadway background, which shows through their high energy theatrics. Michael’s spastic leaps and screams balanced out the gentle crooning of Brian’s voice. Strangely, the most entertaining part of the show was the chemistry between the brothers. While Michael went off on long tangents about dogs and Father John Misty, Brian playfully rolled his eyes in true older sibling fashion. Their distinct personalities shone as they played off of each other, bickering one minute and sharing smiles the next.
Hearing the songs I had memorized in my bedroom back home was a surreal feeling. I was fighting back tears during “If You Give Enough,” a definitive ballad for me. Brian’s intricate lyrics about putting love back into the world hit hard, and the cracking of his own voice spoke to how much the song meant to him too. The encore included an old favorite, “As Long As We’re Together.” Seeing Michael’s signature high kicks and hearing his raw screams in person stirred something inside of me. As I looked around, surrounded by people singing and swaying along, I recognized the mutual feeling. The Twigs finished with a thank you to their home state crowd before sauntering offstage. Similar to me, they were coming back to something familiar.
After the show ended, the night continued on. The venue transformed into a ‘70s discotheque, blasting Donna Summer and Sister Sledge. We danced with the remaining members of the crowd, all blurring into one hazy mass. After we were kicked out into the cool August night and left standing on the sidewalk, reality felt altered. Earlier, inside the venue, the world beyond seemed to disappear. Nothing mattered but what was happening onstage. It was what I’d experienced many nights at shows in D.C., yet something was different this time. I was in Brooklyn and I was at ease. There was nothing more I could have asked for.
Live music has always been an important part of my life, but after the Lemon Twigs show it became clear that concerts also serve as an escape to familiarity in an unknown place. For that reason, that night will always be dear to me. We all have spaces that remind us of where we come from. Whether it is a hidden corner of the library or a certain spot on the beach, they are the places we turn to for comfort and a reminder of where we come from. For me, home is in a crowd who shares my passion for the band playing. Through its music halls and venues, I am looking forward to making Brooklyn my second one.
Illustration by Janie Peacock