BWW Reviews: SILENCIO Floats into the Night at the Hollywood Theater TWIN PEAKS PARTY

BWW Reviews: SILENCIO Floats into the Night at the Hollywood Theater TWIN PEAKS PARTY

In some ways, I suspect the growing "Twin Peaks" cult fandom is the new "Rocky Horror." The resemblances between the two works themselves are significant yet coincidental: both are melodramatic, stylized works that blend horror, comedy and melodrama; both include unusual but decidedly catchy musical numbers delivered in a highly presentational fashion; both are full of colorful characters one step away from cartoons, with unique looks that provide for fun dress-up opportunities; and both at least appear on the surface to be satires of small-town American life and the specter of sexual violence and rape culture (though neither work actually seems to have a viewpoint on the subject, preferring to play with the concept as a springboard for discussion and incident instead). Though "Twin Peaks" does not yet have the interactive, talk-to-the-screen rituals of "Rocky Horror," nor a live stage production (one can only hope this comes into being eventually), Pittsburgh has become the home of a growing "Twin Peaks" cult in the "Rocky Horror" mold, hosting monthly Twin Peaks Parties with screenings of the works of eccentric auteur David Lynch, costume contests, themed food and drink (damn good coffee, damn good pie, of course, plus Pabst Blue Ribbon for "Blue Velvet" fans), games and prizes... and, more often than not, live music by Silencio.

Silencio is a band that defines its own genre. To those who haven't heard them, Morphine is probably the closest comparison in terms of style and mood, with additional resemblances to Lana Del Rey, the Velvet Underground, Tom Waits and Enya. If that sounds like a nonsensical mix, impossible to imagine, then you probably haven't listened to the music of Angelo Badalamenti, the versatile composer who collaborated with Lynch on the "David Lynch sound:" a mix of jazz, dream pop, sinister neo-rockabilly, art song and industrial music. This blend of genres, which conjures images of innocence and menace at the same time, has defined both the soundtracks to Lynch's film and television projects, and his musical side career as a solo artist or mentor to acts such as Julee Cruise. Pittsburgh band Silencio mixes original compositions in the David Lynch style with covers of music associated with the filmmaker and his works, whether covers of the diverse compositions of Angelo Badalamenti, or covers of songs associated with the films themselves, such as "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison, "Wicked Game" by Chis Isaak, and "I Put a Spell on You," by just about every rock and blues artist since the early 1950s.

The band splits its time between instrumental music and vocal numbers, but whenever she appears onstage, slinking about in slow motion to the microphone, Dessa Poljak commands attention immediately. Her voice, breathy but powerful, suits the music's velvety sheen well, whether in the slow, sensual cover of "The Stroll" by The Diamonds, or on originals like "She's Bad." Poljak also exercises admirable restraint in melodramatic numbers like "Wicked Game" or "Sycamore Trees," letting her eerie and subdued performances stand on their own and not aping the theatrics of Chris Isaac or Little Jimmy Scott. But when she lets herself go, as on "I Put a Spell on You," the roof tears right off, and the crowd goes wild.

The heart of Silencio, however, is keyboardist Denny Karl, who anchors the music in the synthesized string pads, echoing pianos, vibraphones and Fender Rhodes keyboards that define the atmosphere of David Lynch's musical vocabulary. Central to the band is his jazz trio with Matt Booth on upright and electric bass and David Jamison on drums, as the three of them set the tempo and often provide much of the groove. Booth, in particular, has excellent technique both as a jazz plucker on the upright, and as a shredding industrial rhythm player with his bow, echoing the lunatic string parts on the more experimental works of the Velvet Underground. Kirk Salopek and Lee Hintenlang on guitar and sax each get to take center stage for their feature and solo moments here and there, but are more essential as the rhythm section, providing the wall of soothing but dissonant sound that surrounds the music.

The crowd at the show quickly became part of the event. During Karl's Liberace-inspired keyboard solo on "Haywood Boogie" in the second set, an audience member dressed as Dale Cooper's Aging Dream Self (a character that makes perfect sense to "Twin Peaks" fans, trust me) got up and danced stiffly like his character on the show, much to the audience's delight. Soon, on rollicking rockers like the original piece "Night Drive," half the audience made its way to the front of the theatre, laughing and boogieing like guests at a sock hop in Hell. Event host DJ Zombo, along with Log Lady and Laura Palmer's Corpse impersonators, joked with the crowd and gave out gifts to the most creative or amusing costumes at intermission- a tiny Agent Cooper took home a pie, Nadine the one-eyed strongwoman with a split personality took home a commemorative log, and crackpot therapist Dr. Jacoby took home a Blu-Ray box set of the entire film and television series. Despite the grim and sordid subject matter, no one can deny that the world of David Lynch fandom is a lot of good, clean fun.

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From This Author Greg Kerestan

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