Stock photo courtesy of Bobo Boom / Flickr.
London-based singer-songwriter, producer and dancer FKA twigs stopped by Trees in Deep Ellum on Nov. 28 to deliver a spellbinding, smoky and sultry performance that transformed the venue into the church of twigs by night’s end.
If two words had to be used to describe her debut album “LP1,” which comprised a majority of the set list, they’d be fantasy and restraint. Twigs played well with these ideas by spending the night practicing the art of withholding.
First, the 7 p.m. show didn’t kick off until 9:30 p.m. when opener BOOTS walked onstage with his band. BOOTS is noteworthy for the substantial contributions he made to Beyoncé’s latest album and “Run the Jewels 2.”
Although his 2014 mixtape, “WinterSpringSummerFall,” is more congruent with twigs’ mellow R&B vibes, his set came off much more dissonant, applying a lot of heavy rock elements. Still, new songs, including “I Run Roulette” and “Mercy” reveal some of the brilliance BOOTS used in the production of Beyoncé’s album.
His set felt abrupt, and after only three or four songs, BOOTS dropped his guitar and slithered off stage without a word.
Then, the crowd waited an hour more.
A bright, brilliant blue flooded the stage and an ascending droning beat filled the venue. What seemed like hours passed before three musicians manning drum kits came out with the night’s star.
Much of the show felt like a dream.
Twigs is a visual artist, in the sense that her fiery music videos, her style and her movements are a big part of what is garnering her attention, but her performance, somehow, found synchronicity between those striking visuals and her delicate-sounding vocals.
Usually, musicians are bound by a couple of unspoken contracts between entertainer and audience: You usually address the audience by the second or third song, and there must be an encore. Twigs broke both, again toying with the idea of restraint.
By the sheer loudness of chants and cheers, it was obvious the crowd wanted to interact with her as much as possible, but most of the show felt like an art recital with twigs visibly focusing on her voice and her movements.
The stage was backlit, and for the majority of the act, she was content with providing the crowd with simple silhouettes of her figure.
It wasn’t until halfway through the show when twigs stopped to tell the packed house that Dallas was officially her favorite tour stop.
Much like her album, “Pendulum” and “Two Weeks” served as the night’s centerpieces with the show’s energy reaching its climax. It felt like an exercise in listening and waiting.
It’s the same kind of slow, steady restraint her music offers, and it must be difficult to translate those kinds of ideas onto a live setting.
All in all, FKA twigs is an artist whose only choice is to go up. Her aesthetic is unique, if not hard to capture live, but there are sparks of brilliance that make watching and listening to her an exciting experience. It wasn’t perfect, but it was damn near close.