June 4, 2010
Twin Sister, Lost Boy, Data Dog @ Glasslands | 5.28.10
JezebelMusic.com @ Glasslands
May 28, 2010 | Twin Sister, Lost Boy, Data Dog
By the time the doors opened for Twin Sister‘s record release party at Glasslands on Friday at nine, there was already a line of several dozen young folks snaking down Kent Street (Note to bands: want people to show up early? Have an open bar), including an underage kid who’d already been turned away once and to whom I definitely did not explain how to sneak in, because that would have been immoral. As the club filled up, the line stayed at a steady 30 people or so all the way through ten, at which point I heard a Lost Boy fan remark “I guess Twin Sister is a popular band or something.” Indeed. Twin Sister has been setting the internet on fire for months now, and I was extremely curious to see how their sleek and subtle pop songs came through in a room packed full of inebriated youth. For the occasion, Glasslands had been decked out with all sorts of fun video projections including slow motion footage of people jumping into a glittering lake, which seemed kind of cruel, considering that Glasslands is a god damned sauna on even the coolest summer nights. Throughout the show I would marvel at the fact that no one seemed willing to shed their flannel shirts.
By the time the opening act went on, I was already huddled in a rear corner of the packed room, trying to avoid the constant stream of sweaty bar-bound traffic. Data Dog is a young, intriguing experimental pop trio, combining tasteful live drums with electronics and featuring dueling lead singers, each of whom possesses an astonishingly high, nasal voice, which I imagine will not be everyone’s cup of tea. The sound onstage was uneven, with vocals sometimes disappearing and other times rising way too high above the band (and one ear-piercing melodica solo), but Data Dog picked up confidence as the set progressed, and by the end they seemed to have found their stride. They have an ear for shape and form that keeps their songs interesting, even if their attempts at anthemic melodies never quite take off.
After forty more minutes of overhearing statements like “it’s, like, bad on purpose to make a statement about America,” (pop art? our government?) and watching the bouncer yell at everyone to get out of the street, I watched Lost Boy take the stage and play a set of pleasant, workmanlike pop punk. They had some solid hooks and they managed to escape the I IV V syndrome that makes all pop punk songs sound the same, but they still seemed a bit out of place as a prelude to Twin Sister’s spacy, late night atmospherics. It’s nice to have diversity at shows, but for every person bobbing their head there were at least three or four staring blankly at the stage, though maybe they were just in the first stages of heatstroke.
By the time Twin Sister finally went on, nothing was in their favor. The brutal heat seemed only to be getting worse, the crowd was three sheets to the wind and very chatty, and there was literally nowhere to stand to avoid being shouldered aside by sweaty patrons desperate for another beer. I stared for an extended period at the head of a giant teddy bear, displayed on the wall like a hunting trophy. It was miserable. Then, the band started playing and everything was transformed. Here was a band with a full range of dynamics (because the band is never deafening, you can actually hear what everyone is playing), fully formed songs, beautiful vocal harmonies (with the unexpected and lovely touch of the male vocals layered above the female), a tightly locked-in rhythm section, and pitch-perfect arrangements. But beyond all Twin Sister’s excellence of craft there is also something intangible, something magic in their songs. I’d never even heard “Lady Daydream” before, with its lovely repeating keyboard figure and relaxed forward motion, but the second the band launched into it I found myself elated and transfixed, as if it were my favorite song, the one I’d been waiting for all night.
Twin Sister’s songs expand and contract naturally, like breath, with singer Andrea Estella’s gorgeously textured voice sitting perfectly on top, and they display a masterful instinct for tension in melody: their habit of leaving the last notes of melodic phrases hanging on extensions rather than chord tones is a perfect summary of what the band does so well, leaving just enough to your imagination. Estella was hard not to watch as she hopped, trance-like, up and down, a red bandana tied around her head, but each member had an easy and comfortable stage presence (two power outages didn’t shake them up in the slightest), and they seemed as delighted by the music they were making as I was. The ultimate compliment I can pay them is this: after the set, having come as a journalist, I bought the record and left as a fan, eagerly tearing the shrink wrap off my new purchase on the subway platform.
by Gabriel Birnbaum