FKA Twigs AKA Formerly Known As Twigs AKA Tahliah Debrett Barnett AKA Robert Pattison’s girlfriend to your Mom performed at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin on 6 March. The venue, a series of outdoor tents and GDR era converted bunkers offered respite from the frigid early German spring and featured a surprising mix of young and old fans of the rural Gloucestershire native.
Performing at a very early 9 pm by Berlin standards, FKA Twigs was placed in the centre of a triad of electronic drummers and was supported by a disorientating amount of pulsing strobe lights. As for her set, her songs melded together in a seamless 40-minute montage that, after a short time, seemed to be just FKA rhythmically breathing a series of syllables over a minimal techno beat. To break up this unvaried set, FKA’s past as a backup dancer for the likes of Kylie, Ed Sheeran and Jessie J shone through as she ricocheted across the stage like a love child of Stevie Nicks and a charmed snake.
She interrupted the songs only once to briefly thank the audience for coming out and her speaking voice was extremely soft and child-like, an unexpected clash to the confidence seen in her dancing. Surprisingly, she played her single ‘Two Weeks’ halfway through the set, which thinned the crowd just enough to let us get a better view of her.
FKA was awarded the 2014 Mercury Prize for her album LP1, which she performed in it entirety at Astra Kulturhaus. This album gained quite a bit of its popularity through her mesmerizing videos, most notably the videos for ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘Video Girls’ [as well as her video for ‘Water Me’ off of EP2]. The videos are beautifully and artfully crafted and this aesthetic was clearly trying to be replicated in her live performance, but without the control of the audience that is afforded through film, the live translation came across as forced and a bit chaotic. The presentation of her surrounded by her drummers and the combination of the lights created a certain atmosphere, but FKA Twigs still seems more apt within a studio and video context. Nonetheless, FKA provided a mesmerizing after-dinner show before the crowd headed off to the more-energetic sites Berlin has to offer.
Words: Emily Corvo