In Dark Souls, you always knew when a boss was coming. The big bad was always behind a “fog door”, a wall of smoke that separated the boss arena from the rest of the level. It would automatically close behind you, locking you in, forcing you to fight or die. Fog doors became intimidating; they were warnings demanding your attention and respect, shouting at us “This way lies death!” Passing through the fog was not a decision to be taken lightly. Passing through the fog meant you were ready for a fight.
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When Tahliah Barnett, aka FKA twigs, performs, she doesn’t require super elaborate stage setups to fix the audience’s gaze. Her wild dance moves, her seductive yet fashionable attire and her synchronized light show command attention. However, her ambitious ‘Congregata’ show, which premiered in London earlier this year, is ten times as wild as her regular show. ‘Congregata’ was brought to New York City for three sold-out nights as part of the Red Bull Music Academy month-long series of events. Taking place at the Brooklyn Hangar, ‘Congregata’ was a hot, sweaty show, and not just for the dancers. The warehouse was downright swampy before the show event began. But for those in attendance, the show was a wild mix of dancers (including Leiomy Maldonado), powerful lights, ornate costumes and of course, FKA twigs in full force, all choreographed with precision to create a two-hour long epic event. There wasn’t even a scheduled break for twigs to talk with the audience, though she did share some genuine love for her family and friends once it was over. With all the flash, it was possible to lose track of the musical progression, which varied through twig’s released material and some other instrumental fillers. But at the cohesive peaks, ‘Congregata’ is a stunning performance inspired by all that FKA twigs is and does and one that promises even greater theatrical and musical endeavors will come.
Songs about breakups are a dime a dozen, but there’s a reason why that’s the case: it’s a powerful universal emotion that has a million different angles to it. No one song can be all-encompassing in its examination of the lovelorn state. Mississippi’s own the Shoe Birds know this, and for their take on heartbreak, “You Leave Me Blind” they craft an anthemic, driving pop/rock number that culminates in its sing-along ready chorus.
“You Leave Me Blind” can be found on the Shoe Birds’ forthcoming Southern Gothic LP.
On their Facebook page, Sneakout describe their sound as “fuzz pop”. Their latest tune, “Savior”, does somewhat fit that mold, but what it brings to mind more distinctly is the early ‘00s rock revival, where vintage amps and distortion pedals flooded venues worldwide for gigs played by bands whose names invariably started with “The”. (The White Stripes, the Hives, the Vines… the list goes on.) With a vocal delivery that can be described as somewhat Ozzy-esque, frontman Robert Fleming declares, “I’m your savior!” atop boot-stompin’ guitar riffs.
By early 1985, charity singles were all the rage. Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, helmed by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, became an instant classic at the end of 1984, with its bevy of UK and Irish pop stars propelling the song to the top of charts worldwide.
Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie on 20 January 1985, recorded the next day, and released in early March, “We Are the World” might not have been as superbly crafted a song as “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but its American star power was staggering, the likes of which pop music will never see again on record. True to form, its sales were astronomical, well in excess of 20 million worldwide. Even Canada got into the action that spring, with the quaint, syrupy “Tears Are Not Enough” (which became that country’s top-selling single of 1985), followed Latin American supergroup single “Cantaré, cantarás”.