On the night of Wednesday, the 28th of January, I walked through the city with my Dad to 170 Russell Street, to attend a performance by renowned British artist FKA Twigs and her opening act DJ Levins. As the doors opened and the line started to shuffle forwards and the crowd descended the staircase, the vibrations of steady music began to pump through the floor.
As we entered the main room, the percussion of DJ Levins revealed itself as a large presence in the room, shocking my eardrums with the intensity of the snare sample. Below DJ Levins’ hard beats lay a thick, low bass rumble that held a slight vibration across every surface in the whole venue. We quickly secured the only bar stool in the place, and set up on the middle bar in front of the stage.
DJ Levins spun discs and remixed songs relatively seamlessly into one another, however his choice of music didn’t seem to elicit a response from the slowly gathering crowd. As the area filled more and more tightly with fans of the hugely artistic FKA Twigs, DJ Levins began to get some dancing from his listeners at the front of the dance floor, and by the time he’d been on the turntables for one hour and forty five minutes, the crowd was ready for FKA Twigs to take the stage and amaze them with her artistic vision. As the time ticked around to her scheduled entrance, the lights dropped and the crowd let out a cheer. Blue light shone out from the stage at the crowd, and a loud, low bass-line flooded the air, with synth overlay running across the top.
The intensity of the interlude grew, steadily building more and more in volume and increasing the suspense. This continued for thirty minutes, and as the volume was reaching uncomfortable heights, a voice trickled into the mix, and FKA Twigs took the stage with a vengeance. Into the second song straight away, and vocalist Tahlia Barnett began to show her skills in dancing, coordinating her movements to coincide with strobe-like flashing lights, giving her a skeletal figure against the brightly lit backdrop. Her songs each played out like this, and the crowd cheered forcefully the more she danced.
Toward the end of her otherwise unbroken set, she stopped momentarily to thank the crowd for turning out tonight, and to introduce her band. She then immediately dove back into the music, and once again submerged the venue into the depth of her art form. The music and light combinations made the whole show seem more like performance art than a gig at 170 Russell, and the experience was made that much more intense by the artistic merit exuded by the artists on stage.
After a brief break off-stage, Twigs took to the microphone to thank her audience, and also to announce her final song. After a point, the musicians gathered themselves up, and exited the stage. Despite the house lights coming up, many people hung around to wait for the band to come back out again, but sadly, the encore had been their final performance of the night. The crowd jammed themselves into the narrow doorways and flooded out into the streets of Melbourne’s CBD, all talking about FKA Twigs and DJ Levins.