Twin Shadow at Granada Theater, 6/24/13: Review
Twin Shadow | Elliphant
June 24, 2013
When Ellinor Olovsdotter took the stage on Monday night, she looked like anything except her stage name, Elliphant. Opening for Twin Shadow at the Granada, I was skeptical that she'd fulfill her simple role in the event: To move the crowd.
While Olovsdotter was a lithe wire of lean muscle, the dubstep bumping below her lyrics sounded like a pack of large beasts roiling over muddy ground: BOOM splat-splat, BOOM splat-splat, echo effect. Elliphant slid between the sputtering low-end bombs, swiveling her hips in time with her chanted, frenetic raps. Between tracks, Elliphant paced, swigging her Corona too quickly and raising a head of foam in its neck, as if signaling the rise she knew was generating among early crowd awaiting the main act.
After each song, I could hear her probing us in Swedish-accented English, making sure we were feeling the fire she'd started with her performance. But the thundering tracks always washed out her lyrics. All I could tell was that her music was remapping some of the turf that M. I. A., Diplo, and Santigold have already surveyed.
Bringing Elliphant to open for Twin Shadow on this tour is pretty clever though. Her flavor of dance music is a kind of second cousin to hip-hop, separated by dub and reggae. Those genres were built with pieces of the same platform: a DJ with crates of LPs, two turntables and a wickedly powerful sound system, working with an emcee who used a microphone to urge listeners into dancing with witty, rhyming lyrics. So Elliphant put me mind of the 1970s and 1980s when folks from Trenchtown to The Bronx to Brixton were inventing hip-hop and dub and wrecking shop lyrically and musically.
George Lewis Jr. traces his music to this same time period, though he's more interested in creating new routes from new-wave/synth-pop toward a kind of new millenium dance-rock music. When Lewis came on stage last night as Twin Shadow, he and his band (Lewis on guitar, a drummer and two keyboard players, one doubling on bass) poured kerosene on Elliphant's smoldering fire.