A long, singular line snaked its way down and around The Complex on Monday, October 15 for at least a good two blocks. Turns out they were hosting not just BØRNS sold-out show with Twin Shadow; curtained off and on the other side, Alina Baraz was set to perform. Fortunately, the show started late enough so timely and latecomers didn’t miss anything.
Twin Shadow (a.k.a. George Lewis Jr.) gave us a surprisingly seasoned, old-souled performance that recalled the days of Don Henley, Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams, and other 80’s greats who did campy pop rock right. Simply put: he’s got the formula for earworm music downpat. Soaring raspy vocals and thick harmonies in his performance of “To the Top” and “Five Seconds” evoked goosebumps and a yearning for a ride down memory lane with the top down and wayfarers on. “Old Love/New Love” was alternately soulful and dancy as hell, hearkening early Janet Jackson and Madonna. Definitely worth a listen – and an excellent live performance to pencil in if you missed it.
The throwback fare continued when Garrett Clark Borns, better known as BØRNS came out in basketball shorts, a Nike jersey, and an open matching jacket thrown over it all. More temperature-friendly attire than his get up this past summer at Bonanza (it got super cold pretty quickly that night) that drew breathy comments from the front row like, “I love you. I love you” and “Oh my gosh, he’s like, so skinny!”
Indeed, BØRNS was like a sensual noodle. Slowly, silhouetted by purple light and smoke, he made his way down a flight of shimmery steps. The beginning “Oooohs” of “Past Lives” exited his mouth and bounced off the walls and suddenly, we were engulfed in his singular voice. The instruments just became a part of it.
One gripe about his and Twin Shadow’s performances was the sound quality, which was of, of course, no fault of their own. If the sound wasn’t so staticky and the treble wasn’t turned up so high, maybe we could have better caught the nuances in BØRNS’ impeccable falsetto as he sang those first acappella verses of his opening song, or felt the bass drop harder when the music kicked in. From the crowd, it was hard to make out the lyrics, which contribute substantively to the sweet sentimentality of his singer-songwriter work.
As it was, his stage show made up for what the sound lacked. His presence was just as ethereal as before. At times, he slithered across the stage while snapping his fingers; at others, the passion of his own voice seemed to overcome him and caused him to swoop his hair back and clutch his chest. He was feelin’ himself like the anomalous modern sex symbol he was, and everyone was there for it. Periodically, he stood and posed on top of the glittering white piano. He actually sat down long enough to perform two back-to-back covers of Elton John in the middle of his set: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” then “Benny and the Jets.” Right after was another throwback, in the form of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” The covers blended impeccably with his own songs; namely, “American Money,” a brooding, sultry love song whose arrangement recalls Lana Del Rey, and “Electric Love,” in the encore.
For more photos from the show, go here.