all words: JEB Gavin
all photos: Julian Vu
By the time Twin Sister took to the stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel, I had gone just over 26 hours without a substantive bite of food. I cannot explain why. There is no satisfactory excuse, nor a good explanation. I mention this only because I wanted a reason to not like this show. I hoped, after the fact, that my hunger clouded my judgment. The following morning, belly full of eggs and orange juice and certainly no more whiskey than the night before, my opinion remains the same: this was not a great show.
Mark my words, “not a great show” does not mean terrible, or bad, or weak. The band was amped, more excited than anyone should be when they are described as “chillwave”. A healthy crowd showed up despite it being Monday night. I like the band, and I enjoy their twee, indie-pop music. They look and sound like they exist in Bizzaro World, where Debbie Harry fronts an out-of-uniform Devo. However something felt off throughout the fifty minute set. There was a sort of disconnect between songs, and the few which worked in sequence did little to create and sustain any lasting momentum.
The opening numbers started out as a cacophony of sugary sweet 1960s pop rhythms and organ work, bringing to mind a heavily sedated Phil Spector constructing and auditory croque-en-bouche. Then came a series of disjointed piles of rhythm and cooing- which are pleasant enough sounds, but these happened to be stacked together without reason. The audience ceased tapping their toes. Songs ended abruptly, even the sound man seemed caught off guard. Again, not bad sounds, not even bad music, but as the set wore on, I found myself wondering, is any of this necessary? Would anyone aside from a very enthusiastic drummer miss the subtle, digital beats? The harmonies drowned in synth wash?
Towards the end, the band pushed through a fuzzed out jam, moving quickly through two or three songs in succession and people started dancing. And then the set ended and the band left. A few die-hards up front coaxed singer Andrea Estella and guitarist Eric Cardona out for an encore, so different in tone and tempo from the crescendo a few moments earlier that most of the audience began filtering out.
A friend suggested after the fact, due to Twin Sister’s varied sounds on their EPs and record, it must be difficult to build a cohesive set. This may well be the case. But the show itself and the music being played, while not bad, were inessential. Music is a necessity. There is no time for the inessential.