1. “She looks very Queen of the Damned.”
At the first of two New York shows on Wednesday, the 26-year-old London singer, born Tahliah Barnett, wore two Minnie Mouse buns at the top of head. The rest of her hair was straightened and crimped, falling down her back toward the floor, and a large silver choker on her neck resembled the chest-plate Aaliyah carried in 2002’s Queen of the Damned. Like Aaliyah, Twigs’ voice is full and powerful, but her default volume is hushed. And like Aaliyah, she’s a young singer with a serious manner who is sometimes hard to read.
2. “Her arrrrrmmmms.”
FKA Twigs moved to London when she was 17 to train as a dancer, before dropping out to make music in 2012. Her name comes from childhood ballet classes, where people noticed that her bones cracked while she danced, like sticks might. She still dances on the side, and her show is as much a display of the extraordinary things she can do with her body as it is a proving ground for her singing chops.
3. “She wants to be the author.”
On Wednesday, Twigs played with a small band — three guys mostly triggering drum machines — but not with Arca, the Yeezus collaborator who co-produced 2013’s EP 2. If there was any confusion, it seems she’d like to make it clear: these are her songs, an no one else’s. (This shouldn’t come as a surprise, really: Twigs has meticulously created the world surrounding her music, releasing videos for almost all of the songs she’s recorded.)
4. “You guys are so good.”
If it seems that Twigs could live entirely in videos, like some kind of hyper-real internet doll, or if her subtlety comes off as stiff or withholding, she balanced that impression on Wednesday. Between songs, there were bits of enthusiastic, warm banter — she complimented the crowd, asked for some tape, and had the lights turned up so that her band could see better.
5. “Is that Ezra Koenig?”
Yes. The Vampire Weekend frontman arrived just before Twigs began to shout-whisper her opener, “Weak Spot,” and stood toward the back, on the wall, for the rest of the show.
6. “Tell Twigs, she made a thug cry.”
One guy said this to no one in particular on his way out. She’d just finished “How’s That,” which narrates a sexual encounter but avoids gender, pronouns, or names. The song doesn’t make clear who’s asking who what feels good, who wants who, and which role Twigs is playing. With heavy blocks of synths layered over manic drum clicks, its sounds slippery, impossible to hold in your hand. Twigs’ voice drifts over all the noise, purposeful and teasing to float away. That whisper leaves you wanting, but it feels so good.
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