Twin Shadow at Thalia Hall in Chicago | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Twin Shadow, HXLT

Twin Shadow at Thalia Hall in Chicago, February 16th, 2022

Mar 01, 2022 Photography by Courtney Penzato Web Exclusive
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Reclaiming the stage in the wake of COVID is a daunting task for any artist, regardless of the number of records sold or tours embarked on. But last month at Chicago’s Thalia Hall, Twin Shadow—born George Lewis Jr.—was more than ready for the challenge. He released his fifth studio album, Twin Shadow, last summer and it displayed a musician ferociously hungry for experimentation and growth.

While many of his notable hits dabble in synthy, ’80s influenced pop sounds, his eponymous project ventured into more worldly territory due to its celebratory Caribbean undertones (parts of the album were actually recorded in the Dominican Republic, which paid homage to the singer’s heritage). In December, it was announced that Twin Shadow would have just four upcoming live dates for 2022 (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Brooklyn). On this particular night, he was sprightly and disarmingly smooth—most likely from the excitement of simply performing again.

HXLT served as the opening act and energetically raged beyond measure. Nigel “HXLT” Holt (formerly known as the emcee Hollywood Holt) purposefully mixes pop-punk with metal and throws in a dash of hip-hop to make his art as genuine as possible. In between cautionary tales of ignoring naysayers to follow your dreams, Holt poured himself into a catalog that reminded everyone in attendance Blackness itself is inherently a revolutionary act.

Twin Shadow took the stage shortly after and opened with the pulsating anthem “Five Seconds.” There were newer gems (“Lonestar,” “Alemania,” Johnny & Jonnie,” “Is There Any Love”), nostalgic bops (“Castles in the Snow,” “Shooting Holes,” “Old Love/New Love”) and shiny pop songs (“Brace,” “Saturdays”). The artist himself sported a vibrant afro and boxy suit as he smiled ear to ear throughout his set. He recognized his own fervor and playfully reeled it in by comparing himself to a “dog that’s been in its kennel for three years.”

Onlookers were just as excited as he was, even though when Twin Shadow insisted the audience sing the chorus for “Saturdays” it proved a bit difficult to nail down (he wound up having to step in). Nothing could put a damper on this concert, though, as joy quickly became the theme of the evening. As he rounded it out with an emotional rendition of “Forget,” the title track from his 2010 debut album, Twin Shadow made one thing perfectly clear: risks are always worth it if you’re willing to take them.

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