By Michael Lello

PHILADELPHIA – There’s a certain unwritten rule in the hipper segments of rock ‘n’ roll against revealing that you want to be liked.

Chris Carrabba, leading his new folk rock project, does not follow that rule.

“Would you please tell your friends that we were fuckin’ awesome?” he asked the crowd before Twin Forks’ final song Sunday at the Theatre Of Living Arts.  “And if you thought we were fair to midland to terrible, can you tell your friends that we were awesome?”

Carrabba, the Dashboard Confessional leader, has a sharp, dry sense of humor.  But his comments were sincere, as it was clear throughout Twin Forks’ energetic and uplifting set that opening for Augustana, the band is Carrabba’s focus, and he really, really wants you to like it.  And after Sunday’s performance, it would be hard not to.

The band focused on its recently released debut album, opening with the punchy “Can’t Be Broken.”  Kimberly Barron’s vocals blended nicely with those of Carrabba, who raised the neck of guitar for emphasis.  “Something We Just Know,” one of the album’s best tracks, was one of Sunday’s highlights, too, with Carrabba singing a “yeah!” or two off mic for dynamic emphasis, and guest Fred Mascherino of Terrible Things lending nice slide guitar work.

The sweet and wistful “Cross My Mind” and “Kiss Me Darling,” which built on a reggae beat, helped move the set along briskly, and Carrabba, again all about connecting with his audience, taught the crowd a call-and-response for “Come On.”

Dashboard’s “The Swiss Army Romance” was predictably well-received, inspiring a singalong,

You can tell a lot about a band through the songs it chooses to cover, and Twin Forks played two in a row that might as well be the band’s mission statement:  Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl” and Band of Horses’ “The General Specific.”  Kelsie Baron kicked off the Earle pub song with mandolin, while the version of the Band of Horses tune was very faithful to the original, but Twin Forks put its own subtle spin on it.  The set ended with “Back To You,” which, like much of the debut LP, is sweet without being cloying.

While Carrabba has said that he plans to play with Dashboard and Further Seems Forever in the future, and those band’s playing again would certainly be positive news for many devotees, Twin Forks deserves time to develop, and if Carrabba keeps it his top priority for another album or two, that would be exciting.  Either way, though, he needn’t worry about whether or not people like Twin Forks.

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