The term "pop star" has changed over the past decade, thanks to alternative-leaning sonic shifts in the genre and the transition into social media usage from the artists and fans alike. But let's be real: a lot of these female pop acts nowadays aren't embodying the modern-day pop star persona to its full capability. Yet there is one woman that we continue to overlook, and that is FKA Twigs.
During her set at NYC's inaugural Panorama festival, the British-bred performer was an artist in every sense of the word. Twigs established herself with her 2012 EP1 debut and has defiantly pushed closer into mainstream territory over the years. As soon as she sauntered on stage like a slightly possessed witch, the trite pop mentality we've become used to—excessive four-on-the-floor beats, tiring vocals and awkward reliance on a squad—were all left behind.
Opening up with "Water Me" from her 2013 EP2, FKA Twigs put a spell on every festival-goer in the Pavilion (the fest's second stage) while donning white locs, a sparkling cutout bodysuit and feathers sticking out of her nose. Don't go looking for pageant girl curls and perfect red lipstick here! The singer's display was futuristic, tribal and intense. Even if you don't "get" her music, you'll have no choice but to understand its exciting and unique sounds by the end of the performance.
Watching Twigs break like a porcelain doll, swivel her hips like a goddess and grab her crotch like the ultimate bad bitch was nothing short of fascinating. It's almost criminal how she glides on the stage, as she tells a story interpreted through dance. She had me hooked as she performed tunes like "Pendulum," "Video Girl," "Two Weeks" and "Glass & Patron." I got to the point where I couldn't tell if I was getting dizzy from the heavy bass and mind-blowing moves, or simply from the fact that it was a boiling sauna underneath the Panorama tent.
Twigs also gifted us with a bevy of new songs: one that was a glitchy mix of electronic, reggae and Afrobeat, and the other found her channeling her inner Janet Jackson while she cooed and rapped (!!) over a warped trap beat. She had no problem shoving her sexuality and womanhood down your throat. Her enthralling artistry is meant to make you uncomfortable, and it's a mindset that many are afraid to tackle.
There was one entirely unexpected moment during FKA Twigs' performance, where she broke into a rare and very adorable smile in the middle of her set. The crowd burst into screams as they managed to catch a tiny glimpse into her soul. Her eyes turned to stone just seconds later, but it was a warm reminder that she is, in fact, human.
As we head into Panorama Day 2, check out our roundup of the best surprises from Day 1. Also listen to Fuse's Back of the Class podcast, joined by me (Bianca Gracie), preview the festival at the 20:40 mark in the episode below: