Twin Peaks, the cult 90s murder mystery show created by auteur David Lynch, was defined by it’s atmosphere. At once it was homely and warm, but then it could cut you in half with its utter tragedy and brutality.
With a new series due in 2016, experimental art rockers Xiu Xiu’s tribute performance of Badalamenti’s original score is perfectly timed. The band’s reimagining of the classic soundtrack reflects the three emotions of any Twin Peaks fan waiting for series three: hope, nostalgia and dread.
The performance starts with an agitating ten minute booming drumbeat and a video of the stairwell in murder victim Laura Palmer’s house. The band eventually enter the stage, with frontman Jamie Stewart clasping a cup of what we assume is some damn fine coffee. They open with ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’, the delicate piano based song that defines the duality of the victim’s personality.
‘Audrey’s Dance’ delivers a funk bassline that has us, and Stewart, dancing our way into the distortion of the next act. The fuzz builds up to create a wall of noise, the sound is deafening, it shakes our collarbones as we stand staring at a video of pine trees rustling in the wind. It has almost become unbearable when a high tempo drumbeat kicks in, saving us from the depths of drone.
A sample of bad spirit killer BOB plays as Stewart picks up his guitar. With heavy riffs and power stances, the band storm through ‘The Pink Room’.
Stewart then takes to the mic for ‘Sycamore Trees’, dripping with sweat as he delivers an almost absurd performance of the Jimmy Scott track. It’s hard to accept this broad, deep voiced singer as an ethereal chanteuse like Julee Cruise, but it works on hit ‘Falling’ as he takes on a more delicate tone.
We return to ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’, but it’s sadder, more desperate. She is no longer the high school homecoming queen, but wrapped in plastic, washed up on a cold beach.
Percussionist Shayna Dunkelman reads from the book The Secret Diary Of Laura Palmer, detailing the character’s fight for stability through deviancy. It’s uncomfortable yet mesmerising, like the music. The speech stops when Stewart stands up and performs ‘Mairzy Doats’, the children’s rhyme that (spoiler alert) murderer Leland Palmer sings in grief of his dead daughter.
Stewart’s swansong is met with applause from the audience, and the trio exit the stage. The same deafening drumbeat rings out, returning us to a tense state wondering “what the hell have we just witnessed?”.
Komedia, Wednesday 7th October 2015
Words by Jasmine Scott