Twin Shadow at First Avenue, 5/31/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess
Twin Shadow
With Elliphant
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, May 31, 2013

For the majority of Twin Shadow's stage show at First Avenue on Friday, frontman George Lewis Jr. looked charmed and freely flashed his glistening smile. Commanding a red guitar and some dizzying effects pedals with authority, he steered his three bandmates and the audience through the sonic and lyrical synthesizer soul of 2010's Forget and last year's Confess.

Near the end of the show, however, he looked momentarily perturbed. "I could be singing 'I belong to you, you belong to me,' but fuck that," he said, affecting the Lumineers -- aka the band that was playing across the street to 8,200 people -- with a sneer and some quick strums. "It's a little more complicated than that." And seeing the claws come out, albeit briefly, showed how fiercely Lewis wanted not just to entertain, but to challenge and captivate every heart in that room.

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Slideshow: Twin Shadow at First Avenue, 5/31/13

The band took their places while Rihanna belting the hook to Kanye West's "All of the Lights" boomed through the speakers. It turned out that Twin Shadow would play mostly in darkness with an array of projections splayed all over their matching overcoat-length blazers. Always a movie theater-sized box of eye candy, Lewis showed off a bleached and closely cropped hairstyle that could've been executed by Chris Brown's barber. "You Call Me On" broke the audience into the set in a rough, moody fashion. When he sang that he didn't give a damn, neither did anyone else.

Photos by Erik Hess
"It is an honor to play on this stage for the very first time," he said with a benevolent grin, and then launched into "Golden Light." As the anthemic track unpacked itself, the projections turned plaid, and then polka dot. And as he did many times over the course of the night, Lewis brought the crowd into it to clap and sing along -- not that they needed much cajoling. Twin Shadow quickly leaped next into "Five Seconds," one of the great dance-along singles of recent memory. Replete with guitar pedal magic and one of the night's several freaked-out solos, Lewis directed his band to lengthen the ending -- and repeated the chorus a few extra times for emphasis.

"You're all drunks," he said with a laugh when the song wrapped. "You should should break all the rules, get smashed, hassle everyone around you, and go home and beat up everyone." This love affair with Minneapolis crowds, which played out delightfully during Twin Shadow's back-to-back Entry shows last August, still felt fresh. Lewis pushed the intimacy further by testing out a strong new composition referencing "cool songs and bad love," which soared into his upper register, and got his keyboardist to break out a tambourine. Then, the sexual energy swirling in the room was further lubricated as Lewis moaned to kick off "Tyrant Destroyed." But he wanted even more from us.

"People in Minneapolis are all so well-behaved," Lewis said afterwards with visible glee. "You all have manners here, and then you go home and do fucked up things to each other. I got tied up in Minneapolis, for real -- it was good."

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