The hype was palpable outside of the Brooklyn Hanger. A congregation of hip hop fans excitedly waited outside among the industrial buildings near the water in Sunset Park. Signs for Red Bull Music Academy were projected against the building, the interior paint black, creating a perfect backdrop for the white lights and fog that filled the hanger.
The sound of violins sparked the show into motion and what followed was a unique and breathtaking experience, molding together the music and dance skills of an artist fully formed and ready to grab the spotlight.
Shadow spread across the Hanger by the intricately designed lights, FKA Twigs entered the stage, moving with a hypnotic rhythm, and dressed in a custom Alexander McQueen piece that evoked the image of a powerful dominatrix. While the night filled with much more pleasure than pain, sexuality pored from the stage throughout the night, as displayed when Twigs dominated her male dance partner just like she had in her “Papi Pacify” music video.
Every beautiful note sung by the electro R&B artist was met with an equally beautiful display of choreography; her team of dancers made up of friends and request collaborators, added to the feeling that “Congregata” was a handcrafted and defining moment in the young artists career.
FKA Twigs, or Talilah Debrett Barnett, who has only been releasing music since December 2012, when she debuted EP1 on Bandcamp, has made quick leeway in gaining a devoted fan base following the release of her excellent first album LP1. Before stepping behind the microphone, she had pursued a career as a backup dancer, appearing in music videos for artists like Kylie Minogue and Ed Sheeran. Her most popular work was with Jessie J for her song “Pricetag,” where she performed as a marionette. Her work on these videos helped her gain a reputation in the industry as being a “one take wonder.”
These experiences are where inspiration drew from when writing “Video Girl.” It came from her video vixen reputation following her while she tried to make the transition into creating her own music. It is clear that with this show, which saw FKA Twigs organizing the choreography and costumes for the entire show, that she has moved well beyond being just a video girl. It also doesn’t hurt that her love life has thrown her into the public eye as gossip magazines are now reporting about her engagement to Twilight star Robert Pattinson.
The visual spectacle of Congregata grabs you from the very first moment. The meshing of ethereal R&B and the erotic and challenging tableau of dance create a dazzling portrait of her as an artist. From the exhibition on krumping by two handsome black men in white suits, to the master class from the veterans of NYC’s vogueing scene, the choreography at this event raised it above a normal concert. The dancers were almost too good, with their arms bent in ungodly angles behind their heads, making the flow seem unreal. Voguers like the esteemed Natalie Famous took over the stage for a portion of the show, throwing out death drops like it was Halloween candy.
With not a single notable mishap throughout the show, Twigs had been in complete performance mode for the whole experience, until the moment she spoke with the audience, revealing her true self as a young adult with a cute British accent. Bringing down the curtains of the the performance to showcase the friends who made this show possible, FKA Twigs seemed to truly be humbled by the crowds’ response to her curated performance. If Congregata is the benchmark for the first part of Twigs career in music, I cannot wait to see what comes next.