“How can you separate the dancer from the dance?”
–William Butler Yeats
This pretentious tidbit of critical theory was all I could think of after seeing FKA Twigs’ national television debut on Jimmy Fallon. In that showcase, she balanced the spontaneity of performance with something resembling witchcraft. Her set up was risky; a wind tunnel created by fans blowing long shining fabric.
Anything could happen. The fabric could douse her, covering her microphone, shrouding her voice. The fabric could trip her if she danced into them. These inanimate drapes were made into very animate variables for FKA Twigs to dance around. It made for a thrilling performance. The uncertainty creating an anxious undertone throughout.
But, the fascinating thing was, somehow; it seemed like Twigs was telekinetically controlling the sheets. She appeared more like a mythical Jedi than a human being. The fabrics were not variables; they were merely other objects in the universe under FKA’s governance.
The same sort of wizardry was apparent last night at her show at the newly re-opened Regent Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. There weren’t any fabrics this time; instead FKA Twigs established her dominion over lights and smoke. The effect was the same: compelling, eye-catching, and all around arresting.
Coming out in a leather kimono (what you know about that Kanye?) FKA Twigs enwrapped the audience, her movements and rhythm as much a part of the vibrations as the sounds bouncing off the walls. With the kimono off, she revealed shining gold chains draped around her waist, a standard belly dancer garb somewhat coupled with hip-hops predilection for jewelry. She owned the setting. When she fell, the room darkened. When she shook, the beat would syncopate. Throughout, one gets the feeling that this ain’t no fucking sing along, you can only revel.
Of course, this sort of LED control could be (and probably is) attributed to the savvy light work from the house. Which says a lot about the Regent’s capability as a venue. Yet, in a time where DJ’s “All Hit Play” the instability of the human element is a refreshing nuance in Twigs’ performance. It’s one thing to set up an “SMPTE to the front of the house” and sync it to other computers controlling lights, but to connect a body to the machine is another thing entirely. It seemed larger than music.
Which is how I would describe Twigs’ opener, Boots. Making a hell of a debut as one of the head producers on Beyonce’s surprise visual album from last year, Boots is already prolific while largely unknown. With just a mixtape out earlier this year he is still making the rounds of tastemakers, but, his performance is already seasoned. Seeming to converge in a strange mix of Hendrix presence and “does-your-chain-hang-low” rap aesthetic, his set was hard hitting.
But, I am curious as to where he is headed. Coming off the laurels of a Beyonce co-sign, it feels like he is bigger than the “here I am to perform some songs for you” mold. It was almost strange to see him with a guitar, like if you saw Jay Z at a McDonald’s drive-thru. His production, song-writing and musical chops are not at all in question, all of it is solid. But, what he represents as a musical figure is still largely up in the air.
Which, admittedly, makes him the perfect opener for FKA Twigs. While there weren’t draping curtains whimsically flying through the stage, the uncertainty of where Boots is headed coupled with the organic movements of FKA felt singular. In conversation with Yeats, it isn’t so much separating the “dancer from the dance,” but rather distinguishing between the dancer and the lights, smoke, sounds and, even, those present to witness.
Words: Ziv Biton
Check out the photos below of FKA Twigs at the Regent with opening act, Boots.
Want more photos? Check out the photo gallery below!