FKA twigs’ music isn’t easy to describe. Many websites use the term ‘alternative R&B’, but that’s not doing justice to the unique sounds the 26 year old singer has created.1 You can hear influences from all genres -from electronic to hiphop and from soul to opera- but from all those styles, FKA twigs has distilled her own, distinct and distinguished sound. She released EP1 independently in 2012, which led to EP2 just a year later. Her second EP started getting traction, receiving positive reviews from important music outlets like Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound. LP1, twigs’ first full length album, ended up in many album-of-the-year discussions. I immediately fell in love with the album, and wondered how Tahliah Barnett -FKA twigs’ real name- would translate the sounds and vocals to a live show.
After twenty minutes of ambience music, which doesn’t do much for the audience except making them impatient, the band and FKA twigs take the stage. At first, her appearence reminds me of Sade, but that impression is quickly overwritten when twigs starts moving. She hasn’t lost her dancing step, seamlessly mixing sensual moves with sharp, harsh movements. FKA twigs’ alternates songs from her EPs with songs from LP1. Her voice is as beautiful as on record and navigates the line between ice cold and heart warming. When you can hear it from behind the deep bass and hard hitting drums, that is. The volume of FKA twigs’ microphone is too low to match the eardrum-shattering volume of the electronic sounds her three-man band produce. It’s the only flaw of the show and is the sole reason the show doesn’t get from ‘really good’ to ‘great’.
Then FKA twigs asks the band to stop. Some people think it’s part of the show, but if they’d paid attention, they’d seen twigs getting distracted by all the talking in the audience. I have never understood people who go to concerts to talk all the time during the show. It’s incredibly hard to hear one another so if you want to catch up with someone, go to a bar.2 FKA twigs kindly requests the people who want to talk to leave, so she can give those who are paying attention -or “friends” as she calls them- the experience they deserve. When the absence of sound is almost as important as the things you do hear, there has to be total silence. It’s a tough situation for an artist to be in, but twigs handles it gracefully.3 It shows her spirit: she needs to be in full creative control, whether it’s about a song, a video or a live show. She demands your attention and because she does, she deserves it, too.
After the brief interruption, FKA twigs seems relieved the audience is finally quiet. Her voice sounds stronger than before and with album stand-outs Kicks and Two Weeks, the show comes to an end. It’s a performance I won’t forget any time soon, because it’s unlike anything you’ve seen. Visually and sonically stunning, FKA twigs shows she’s here to stay, as long as she wants.
- FKA twigs doesn’t like to be labeled as an alternative R&B act. In an interview with The Guardian she said: “It’s like punk; fuck alternative R&B!”. And she’s right. ↩
- twigs’ show was part of a five day music festival. Maybe those with passe partout tickets were talking, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. If you don’t like the show you’re watching, just get out. Don’t ruin it for those who do enjoy the performance. ↩
- There were some rumors she stormed off stage because of the talking. Let me clarify: she didn’t and the way she handled it couldn’t be better. I wish more artists would care about the experience of their fans as much as twigs does. ↩