Twin Forks make their way through San Francisco mid-May with support from The Social Animals and songwriter/artist Dan Layus (of Augustana) for the First Annual Folsom Tour.
The Independent began filling up even before the openers, The Social Animals took the stage. For kids who are still someone new at the game (and they proudly show it — taking carefree moments between songs to joke with the crowd, “This is what we call a transition between songs. It separates the good from the great…”) there is no question why they’re rounding out this Folsom tour, whose aim was to bring like-minded musicians with a passion for playing for like-minded fans.
The Social Animals show their comfort on stage as they tackle a cover song so few would dare to attempt: “When Doves Cry” by the late Prince. Lead vocalist Dedric Clark stays cool and collected as he powers through their rendition of the song, and it’s absolutely beautiful. There are murmurs of laughter as Clark thanks “whoever” it is lighting up the stage — who decked out the number in Prince’s deep signature purples.
Their debut EP, “Formative Years” was released just a few months ago — but familiar fans sing and dance along, even screaming for an encore once the band has wrapped things up. Even if you weren’t familiar with The Social Animals prior to the night’s events or if you’re reading this and still haven’t a clue — stream/download/purchase their EP. You won’t regret it.
After a short intermission, Dan Layus takes the stage. This Augustana frontman is welcomed with a wave of home-town-admiration as fans crowd their way towards the stage to say their hello’s, shake his hand, and offer drinks after his performance. Layus’ face lights up every time a familiar friend or fan present themselves, and it’s a sentiment that doesn’t fade away once his performance begins. Even as Dan performs his songs off of his late 2016 release, Dangerous Things, he ends each song with a grateful bow and a smile from ear-to-ear, thanking the fans for coming out and lending our ears.
Layus’ voice echoes through The Independent, his songs spilling with emotion as he sits behind his piano. He plays a collection of songs, released and brand new. Beginning the night with “Enough For You” to title track “Dangerous Things,” “Four Rings” and “You Can Have Mine” as he makes his way through his catalog of songs.
A quick silent drapes over like a blanket as Layus shares that he’s from Salinas area with family in San Diego. He jokes that he feels very comfortable here, very comfortable playing a new song he’s written about raising a voice to the ‘union in the south.’ He jokes that the next song, while partly satire…is also partly terrifying, as it was written as he climbed inside what he imagines to be our current President’s state of mind. He laughs, his eyes glimmering, “I knew you’d quiet down.” He jokes, at the suddenly hushed voices and ended conversations. “That’s good. Your priorities are in check.” The new song takes way, with lyrics along the lines of a man thinking he’s God’s greatest gift to mankind, that everybody seems so entertained even when you haven’t a clue what you’re doing and even threatening to be the one to lock people away and eat up the key. The song ends with the line that people aren’t laughing anymore and Layus falls dramatically on the keys, a loud crescendo of crashing notes to end the song that took us all by surprise.
He ends his set with a song that fans were literally shouting for since the beginning: “Nightbird.” And the beautiful performance leaves us wishing there was time for more, as Dan thanks the crowd sincerely and shares love to each and every bright-eyed face looking up from the crowd.
There isn’t too much of a wait for Twin Forks to take the stage. This folk/roots/Americana collective may have been founded by Dashboard Confessional’s own Chris Carrabba, but other than a familiar face, one would never know he was in both bands. While Dashboard may be the more seasoned and recognized of the two, Carrabba’s presence within Twin Forks is only as loud as his band members: Jonathan Clark, Kelsie Baranoski, Sara Most and Shawn Zorn. There is never a mention directly to Dashboard or Carrabba’s success in other acts (only a short nod to the most ‘emo’ days back with Further Seems Forever), a gesture that seems respectful, yet surprising. The venue itself advertised the night as “Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba,” but his respect for the artist he shares the stage on tonight is an obvious one as he refuses to belittle or overshadow them with his claim to fame under different names.
It’s unnecessary all the same, as Twin Forks doesn’t need to ride on the coattails of any former acts. Their American roots music vibe are perfect for singing along and dancing and as much fun as the crowd is having tonight, Twin Forks is having double that amount on stage. “I don’t remember where we’re from…” Chris jokes with his bandmates before addressing the crowd, “I’ve had a strange day… should we discuss it? Later?” He muses as Kelsie stands jokingly impatient with her mandolin to encourage Chris to just ‘start the song!’
They begin their set with the less predictable “Good and Slow” as Carraba jokes, “Hey! I like that band a little, I hope they play that one song I definitely don’t know first!” as he looks to the crowd, and continues the playful nature as he turns to his bandmates, laughing all the while as he questions, “What are the first words? How does it go? Oh yeah…” before finally kicking off the night in what is one of the best ways we’ve ever seen.
The lighthearted, joking nature is carried throughout the entire show. Chris shares with us that his cousin is on stage, drummer Shawn Zorn, and as he mocks frustration, he jokes that every night he kicks Shawn out of the band for revenge… and then Shawn’s mother calls. “Christopher!” he yells in a high-pitched voice, mimicking his aunt with a wagging finger that means only one thing: you better behave.
The band decides to play a cover song, Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl, which they all take turns laughing as they explain they have an entire EP you can have emailed to you… “How do they get it?” the band asks, and both girls joke back and forth, pretending to haven’t a clue how the internet works as one yells out “Maybe a carrier pigeon?” The entire night is fun and games such as these as Kelsie laughs, trying to count how many songs they have now… is it 31? And as they let the number sink in for a second, the band is bursting into waves of laughter of their own inside jokes, calling themselves the “Baskin Robins” of cover songs, in every free sample flavor.
The night never seems to have a dull moment, between the beautiful performance Twin Forks delivers and their happy-natured personalities. At one point, Chris notices his jean jacket has appeared to have ripped severely in both elbows and whines out that they’ve been “lost” before later returning to joke that not everyone has ‘most’ of a jean jacket. “It’s a whole other world out there,” he teases, in regards to his partial jacket, as he recalls back to the days of shitty jobs and bosses daughters and trying to impress the girls who you’re completely enamored by. Chris shades that he had tried to fool this particular girl to make her believe he knew a lot of shit, but she saw the world from a whole different point of view. When he tried to recollect to write a song about it, he just couldn’t find the song in the room…so he thought, maybe the song is on the other side of the wall. So he went and sat on the other side and there, he found it. Waiting for him. The song, “The Other Side,” simply spilled out.
As “Get Ready Marie” is played, Carrabba gives the story of how so many of his friends are recently married and at a handful of the ceremonies, he’s asked to perform a song. So, instead of picking a conventional love song, he performs “Get Ready Marie,” when asked to play something pretty, he shrugs it off and says they got ‘this instead.’
“If you’re waiting for the next band… we’re it. So, we’re just going to keep playing songs. We won’t go behind the curtain and wait for you guys to cheer… because I don’t think you will,” Chris comments as the crowd’s quiet focus seems almost a bit too intense. It is short-lived, though, as they power into “Kiss Me Darling,” which wakes up the crowd as girls begin to dance around, using up as much space as possible to this known song.
The night was an unforgettable one, with too many laughs and just as many amazing performances. Thanks, Soda Pop (a childhood nickname of Chris’, you’re welcome) for making us feel like more than fans, and instead like family. We can’t wait for next time.
Good And Slow
Cross My Mind
Galway Girl (Ed Sheeran Cover)
The Other Side
Get Ready Marie
Kiss Me Darling
Tall Green Grass
Something We Just Know
Can’t Be Broken
Blister (Violent Femmes Cover)
Scraping Up The Pieces
Back To You