“This show is definitely not starting at ten, man.”
Mike looks around the sparsely populated main room of Don Hills with drink in hand. I follow suit, taking the opportunity to study a photograph of two naked chicks wearing cowboy hats and hip holsters. Artsy. The place embodies the debaucherous rock and roll aesthetic, but pulls it off (barely) on account of the blackness of its walls and the relative lowness of its ceiling. The tits and dicks plastered on the walls just remind me of a poor kid’s attempt to recreate Pangaea, a douchey club I often found myself in ten years ago, featuring, among other things, a black and white photograph of a naked girl, sitting spread eagle, wearing an animal head.
Mike and I sit on the red leather banquettes, discussing the spiraling nature of self-toxification and an impending winter while skinny kids slowly trickle into the room behind us.
“Maybe we should ask Twin Shadow when he’s going on,” Rinat suggests half jokingly. The lead singer is wandering freely around the room, saying hi to people he knows and being, well, normal. That’s the strange part about liking a band that hasn’t yet exploded into mainstream popularity: you can watch them perform in a venue the size of three living rooms and share bar space while you knock back shots, all for $12.
The first time I became acquainted with Twin Shadow was via his music video for “Slow,” a super low-budget riff off of the 1990s Calvin Klein commercial featuring models in a wood-paneled basement of some weirdo’s house, being interviewed on camera by an unseen creep in this psychosexual, rapey sort of way. And so it was odd to see George in person, wearing a plum suit and not a white shirt and denim vest, looking less like a boy about to be taken advantage of and more like a man about to take the stage.
An hour behind schedule, the band arrives at the front of the room, being lent the appearance of the prom band in some quirky independent movie by a wall of shiny cellophane ribbons behind them. “Fashionably late, as always,” George says, a not-so-apologetic smirk crossing his lips. They launch into “Shooting Holes At The Moon” and I try to pretend that the acoustics in this room don’t sound like shit, an impossible feat.
Their live act comes across less reserved than the album does, which sounds more like the energetic musings of a softer soul. In person, it plays rougher and with greater urgency. The acoustics of the room do not do justice to the less obvious songs like “Castles In The Snow” – only the pulsing 80s/90s dance beats are really able to survive this place.
Twin Shadow gets the greatest audience cooperation during “Slow.” The lights flicker blue and red and yellow and purple and the band plays, taking me back to some imagined 80s memory, driving in my boyfriend’s convertible Camero while hot San Fernando Valley air whips through my hair. When the chorus arrives, kids in the front thrust their fists in the air, shouting with George, “I DON’T WANNA…BELIEVE…OR BE…IN LOVE!” There is something beautiful about this collective angsty resistance to love and I shout right along side them, dancing on the tips of my toes and watching my hair fly from side to side in front of my face.