Nine Inch Nails, Sharon Van Etten, Hudson Mohawke: Why Twin Peaks’ Bang Bang Bar is the place to be

If, like me, you have been glued to Stan every Monday since late May waiting for a tasty and albeit creepy and fucked up new episode of Twin Peaks: The Return to appear, then you’re likely to have fallen deep, deep down the rabbit hole that David Lynch and Mark Frost have freshly dug out.

“Part 9” screened yesterday – Australian time – and as we tip the halfway point of the American supernatural serial drama, more questions are being posed as different plotlines from the original 90’s series are starting to converge with those of 2017.

Of course, the soundtrack of Twin Peaks has remained one of the most iconic elements of the show; Angelo Badalamenti‘s original score has engrained the show in the minds of fans and anyone with a passing interest in the show back in the early 1990’s. When we were first greeted with the opening credits of this year’s Twin Peaks: The Return, the vision of the waterfall set to Badalamenti’s “Falling” score sent a rushing sense of nostalgia right through the viewer.

As this series has proven, music has remained a large player in furthering or stunting the direction of any scene. With the ability to confuse an audience, fill a scene with warmth or, in the case of “Part 8”, completely head-fuck an entire fandom, Lynch’s longtime Musical Director Dean Hurley has done a spectacular job.

Fans will notice the trend that has been struck up throughout Twin Peaks: The Return, being the end of most episodes taking place at the Bang Bang Bar, with a guest band or artist performing on stage. Not much else happens aside from a stray conversation here, a sexual assault by an unhinged Richard Horne there, but there’s still something in the way these bands have been selected and placed within the Twin Peaks universe as a result. “Part 9” saw Sky Ferreira make her debut, not on stage, introduced to the audience as ‘Ella’; a girl with a serious rash whose recently been fired from her job at a burger joint. Where that goes, I have no idea.

Most of the bands featured so far have been taken from the pool of Relatively Unknown New-School Indie (at least, to Australian audiences), though it was a particular delight to see Sharon Van Etten pop up in “Part 6”. This isn’t a way for Lynch/Frost to give the audience a fun vantage point on what the young folk living in Twin Peaks, Washington get up to on a night out. It’s showing an environment where everybody has their own shit going on and regardless of whether they’re swaying to the dream pop sounds of Williamsburg’s Au Revoir Simone, embracing their inner club rat to Hudson Mohawke or just having an entirely different experience to ‘The’ Nine Inch Nails, there are plenty of dark corners in the Bang Bang Bar, and the audience is kept just out of frame. At least, for now.

With nine episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return still to go, we’re expecting more musical guests but in the meantime, let’s take a look at the performances so far.

 

CHROMATICS

Appeared: “Part 2”
Performed: “Shadow”

The Portland, Oregon four piece have been making music since 2001, their latest release coming in the form of 2012’s Kill For Love, though a 2014 album Dear Tommy was almost finished. When producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel experienced a near-death experience in Hawaii, he destroyed all copies of the album, only for the band to re-record the album and prepare it for release (hopefully soon).

THE CACTUS BLOSSOMS

Appeared: “Part 3”
Performed: “Mississippi”

Minneapolis brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum struck instantly with their Everly Brothers vibe, injecting a distinctly different vibe in to the Bang Bang Bar in “Part 3”. They’ve been around since at least 2014 in this outfit, though with their album You’re Dreaming, The Cactus Blossoms have courted attention of music tastemakers and American audiences brilliantly.

AU REVOIR SIMONE

Appeared: “Part 4” and “Part 9”
Performed: “Lark” and “A Violent Yet Flammable World”

The New York trio have been making music since 2003 and are signed to Moshi Moshi Records in Europe; their appearances on Twin Peaks: The Return have seen the band pull from their 2007 album, The Bird of Music, while their last record came in 2013’s Move in Spectrums. As of this week’s episode, Au Revoir Simone are the only band to have performed twice at the Bang Bang Bar.

TROUBLE

Appeared: “Part 5”
Performed: “Snake Eyes”

So this one keeps it a bit in the family. Trouble made their television debut with their appearance in “Part 5”. In fact, they made their world debut. Featuring aforementioned Musical Director Hurley on drums, Lynch’s son Riley on guitar and Dirty Beaches‘ Alex Zhang Hungtai on saxophone, Trouble came together specifically to make music for Twin Peaks: The Return. Dark R&B tones filter through a distinctly noir and simmering vibe – it’s a pretty cool link up. Unfortunately, this seems to be a one off thing.

SHARON VAN ETTEN

Appeared: “Part 6”
Performed“Tarifa”

One of our favourite songwriters and musicians, Sharon Van Etten, appeared with her band at the Bang Bang Bar, performing “Tarifa” from 2014’s Are We There. We haven’t heard much from Sharon since the release of I Don’t Want To Let You Down in 2015, but this appearance reminded us of how much her harmonies and captivating stage presence is missed.

“THE” NINE INCH NAILS

Appeared: “Part 7”
Performed: “She’s Gone Away”

Nine Inch Nails need no introduction, which is why it was particularly amusing to see them be the only band to be given a formal one during “Part 7”, especially as “THE Nine Inch Nails”. Of course, it’s not a NIN appearance without added drama and so for the first time, this actually look like a music video. Trent Reznor, really diving into that hard-leather look, could possibly be Killer BOB in this scene, who knows?

HUDSON MOHAWKE

Appeared: “Part 9”
Performed: “Human”

Making more of a cameo than a full-fledged musical appearance, producer and DJ Hudson Mohawke debuted a new song in “Human” at the Bang Bang Bar ahead of Au Revoir Simone’s sophomore appearance. We haven’t been able to see how this one turns out in full, though we hope it means some exciting new tunes from the Scot are on its way.

Twin Peaks: The Returns screens on Stan.