Review: The Lemon Twigs @ The Outpost Bar (Brisbane)

The Lemon Twigs played The Outpost Bar (Brisbane) on 31 October, 2023.
Harry is a musician, producer, and visual artist, making psych pop and glitch art under the name Elder Children.

If you're planning on seeing The Lemon Twigs live, expect the bar for a show to grow dangerously high.

From the first note of their 2020 single 'The One', the New York four-piece ignited Brisbane's The Outpost Bar (31 October), lighting the joint up like The Summer of Love all over again.

The tune's infectious jangle sparked immense energy from the crowd, with smiles stretching from ear to ear as the shaggy haired brothers tossed out summery, remarkably tight harmonies like handfuls of candy.

This trend continued with the run of 'In My Head' and 'Ghost Run Free', two 12-string guitar-laden jingles in which sugary melodies are met by equally sweet lyrics. "Crystal eyes, flower hair – wonder if they're really there. Winds of love flying free, every moment."

Throughout these songs, The Lemon Twigs flung about with head-high kicks and other striking feats, all while maintaining a steady command over numerous, dazzling guitar solos.

In the years since the band's 2016 cult classic debut album 'Do Hollywood', The Lemon Twigs have been in demand as sessions collaborators. The group, most often collaborating with mastermind producer Jonathan Rado, have worked on records by Rado's own Foxygen, Weyes Blood's 2019 epic 'Titanic Rising', and Tim Heidecker's 'Fear Of Death', to name a few.

The revivalist band's latest record, 'Everything Harmony', rings closer to era-worship than pastiche. It is a remarkably authentic work of art, from dedication to stringent production methods and instrumental standards, to warmly sincere and grounded songwriting.

There's far less tongue-in-cheek here than on their zanier and more experimental 2020 album, 'Songs For the General Public', which showcased influences ranging from Weather Report to The New York Dolls.

Live, songs from this previous release, like the Springsteen-esque 'Hell On Wheels', highlighted how cohesive their diverse inspirations have become, tying riotously garish tunes in seamlessly with their folksier material. "Now we're much older baby, no more sunshine. Oh, the kids of yesterday have gone – but they left us with their blues!"

'Everything Harmony', self-produced by The Lemon Twigs brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario, feels earnest and personal. This depth extends even to the more overtly and unabashedly Beatles-inspired tracks, such as the Harrison-esque 'What You Were Doing'. Elsewhere on the record, 'Born To Be Lonely' elegantly expands their palate, a mournful ballad which shifts from 4/4 time into a 3/4 waltz, reminiscent of Elliott Smith.

From string arrangements to engineering, drums, bass, piano and trumpet, there's very little that The Lemon Twigs can't do. And speaking of drums, when the clock struck time for brother Michael to hit the kit, the atmosphere of the entire venue erupted.

With Brian also switching from guitar to bass, Michael's Keith Moon-esque energy and theatrical flair for drumming brought a new level of oomph to the evening, revving up tunes like 'Any Time Of Day' and 'I Wanna Prove To You'.

Onstage, the Long Island duo are joined by virtuosic multi-instrumentalists and singers Danny Ayala and Reza Matin. Live, you'll find the quartet sustaining an electric edge throughout even their more acoustically driven studio tracks.

For Halloween, Brian dressed "as a Frenchman" – bringing a baguette onstage, which was later used by Michael as a guitar slide. When bantering, the brothers frequently and hilariously toppled over one another's words, naturally making for a completely relaxed and good-humoured scene.

However, where the chat was elastic, the playing was rock solid. 'Live In Favor Of Tomorrow' made this abundantly clear, with the band jumping through death-defying chord changes like four Evel Knievel's in drag.

Even when experiencing occasional hiccups with their road-worn Fender and Rickenbacker guitars, the D'Addario brothers managed to seamlessly tune mid-song – all while holding down flawlessly intricate vocal harmonies.

While it may appear that The Lemon Twigs have backed away from glam and embraced a more innocent aesthetic, there's certainly no lack of rock & roll grit to their performances.

Set closer 'Leather Together' shot like a rusty gun, with Michael and the band spitting the proto-punk anthem out at break-neck speed, before saying a brief farewell.

The group keep the spirit of the '60s and '70s alive in many ways, with a gaggle of fans even proclaiming that they'd followed them all the way from Adelaide – just to catch a second show.

For the encore, Brian took to the stage alone, delivering a poignant rendition of their Carpenters-esque tune, 'When Winter Comes Around'. This touching moment was followed by a brilliantly befitting pair of covers, starting with The Beach Boys' 'This Whole World' and ending on the now-underrated Beatles classic, 'Hold Me Tight'.

In a time when even the best young bands who don't lean into 'modern' styles struggle to make ends meet, The Lemon Twigs represent hope for a more prolific rock culture.

The band champion the kind of showmanship and instrumental prowess that is frighteningly lacking in our era of pop. They're able to effortlessly borrow and pull from hyper-specific sonic epochs, all the while sculpting their own unmistakable, eclectic sound.

Onstage, the group craft an incredible spectacle. They sustain a level of excitement, sincerity, and raw love for experience that is all too rare in today's guitar music.

So, if you're a long-lost lover lamenting rock's forgotten verve, give thanks to The Lemon Twigs – they're bringing it back, better than ever.

Read our recent interview with The Lemon Twigs.

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