Neko Case loves “Twin Peaks.” Neko Case loves “Twin Peaks” so much that she came to the stage in an owl costume Friday night in celebration of the rebooted David Lynch show. Her feathery splendor, held together by a binder clip, heralded a gloriously kooky and spooky South by Southwest set unlike any other.
“I just want to be clear who the nerdiest person in this room is,” Case said upon entry, behind a bird-like hood. The avian finery did nothing to detract from the beauty of her music — and honestly, when you’re performing in a facsimile of the Black Lodge at SXSW, might have enhanced it.
“A Widow’s Toast,” haunting, reminded the room of the speed of gravity, and introduced Case’s 5-person band, including longtime collaborator Kelly Hogan on backup vocals. Case’s voice, full of clarity and knowledge, spun a rendition of “Bracing For Sunday” before doffing the feathers, though Hogan jokingly attempted a James Brown-esque cape re-drape.
Case assured the party that she brought all of her creepiest songs to the show. “Creepy” might be too strong of a word, but an eeriness did pervade songs like “The Pharaohs,” where Case’s jaw quivered from side to side as sang of being someone’s blue, blue baby. “Look For Me (I’ll Be Around)” best matched the Lynchian mist in the air, full of the kind of gorgeous foreboding you’d only find in a Route 66 diner at 3 a.m. Case’s peal-of-thunder power notes only added to the goosebumps.
After confessing that she stole some spotlight from a band member after being distracted by a “Twin Peaks” commercial playing on a distant screen, Case continued to profess her geeky enthusiasm for being at the party.
“I know it’s SXSW, but don’t be cool,” she said. “Just nerd. Nerd as hard as you can.” She then dedicated “Maybe Sparrow” to recently deceased “Twin Peaks” actor Miguel Ferrer.
The sound bleed at Clive Bar, surrounded by far more obnoxious Friday night festivities, was atrocious. Case and her band, though, transfixed a packed house as if the joint was sealed off entirely. “I think we found our gang,” Hogan said.
Best damn set on Rainey Street, that’s for sure.