(Photo: Drew Gurian / Red Bull Content Pool)
The Brooklyn Hangar can be best described as a sweltering space — perfect for raves, we might add — that's built for these kinds of attractions. If you’re the type to frequent a lot of hip hop shows, then FKA Twigs is an experience that breaks the expected flow of DJ set, opening act and headliner with a few surprise guests. FKA Twigs, who got her name because of the way her joints cracked, created an immersive experience that combined her music, visuals and performance influences into one.
Twigs, who performed her second of three shows as part of Red Bull Music Academy NYC last night (May 18), is a highly creative experimental artist that wants to push the culture forward with new ideas. Part of that mission is in Congregata, which means “to gather” in Latin, where she’s brought together her closest friends and collaborators she met in London. “It's an insight into my mind, my roots, my inspirations,” she wrote on Facebook. “A swelling conceptual performance using dance, performance and my music to-date to create a world that I want you to share with me."
We ventured to Sunset Park in Brooklyn to learn more about why she’s gained so much notoriety since her mesmerizing music videos enticed us a few years ago. With a crowd that mixed hipsters, curious listeners and die-hard fans who dressed like her, we were in for a unique surprise. Here are six moments from the sold-out Congregata performance that made us clap for her. Sometimes, you just gotta give props where they're due.
THE SETUP: The stage wasn’t as extravagant as the Yeezus tour, but Twigs managed to set the mood right with her band that all stood in a row behind her. The atmosphere was dark and foggy, possibly to create the feeling that Congregata was a musical from another dimension.
THE SEXUALITY: Twigs and her dancers created the energy of sexual desire and lust very easily through their choreography. While much of Twigs's music doesn’t contain explicit lyrics, she is slowly changing the attitudes of how we see males and females as more than sexual objects. In her world — and in the context of Congregata — gender and sexuality are intertwined as one without any boundaries. She even alters gender politics in a moment where she left the stage to allow two men to perform a dance sequence together that was a stunning display of eroticism. It was one of many instances were it felt pure and raw all at once.
THE MUSIC: Twigs played selections from her EP1, EP2 and LP1, including “Lights On” and “Two Weeks.” Her falsetto, combined with the interaction with her dancers and the audience, stimulated our senses in a powerful way. Often times, fans couldn’t help but get lost in her most intense displays of voguing, which left us breathless.
THE DANCERS: There were a total of 12 dancers, with an assembled crew of voguers, krumpers, bone-breakers and contemporary dancers. Their interactions with one another, as well as their unlimited amount of energy that got the crowd cheering loudly, were a sight to see.
THE OUTFITS: Twigs left nothing to the imagination. Throughout her nearly two-hour performance, she changed into various costumes, from a low-cut onesie to custom-made S&M corsets to sparkling bustiers. An especially moving performance art scene came when the room went dark and there were red lasers coming from the ceiling. Twigs and her dancers refracted the red beams while performing one of her slower songs, which put on a cool display.
THE FINALE: Twigs gave a final thank you and she was met with a round of applause. After performing at a significantly smaller venue (Webster Hall) more than a year ago, it’s amazing to see how far she’s gone. “I just want to say first of all thank you so much for being here to support me,” she said. “New York has been a special place for me."
Before introducing her dancers and bandmates one by one, she gave us her reasons why she respects them so much. “I'm not working with them because they are hot and because Tumblr said so. I'm not about that. I'm about working with people that I met in my life,” she said.
Then, Twigs closed the show with a drag and voguing showdown that received the loudest roar from the crowd that could have broken decibel records. Our ears are still ringing, but that's because she put on great show that cemented her place in music.
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(Photo: Maria Jose Govea / Red Bull Content Pool)