Hard to go wrong when God does the set dressing for your ACL Fest gig and has a sense of humor. For Twin Shadow — the musical alter ego of New York's George Lewis Jr. — a blanket of dark clouds rolled over the American Express stage halfway through a Sunday afternoon set. No metaphor: Good vibes reigned, and the on-the-nose meteorological happening just gave sweaty dancers a second wind, literally.
Since his previous stops in Austin for South By Southwest, Lewis’ stage show has loosened up. In 2015, Twin Shadow was all about light, dark and swagger, touring in Austin behind the "Eclipse" album. In 2018, Lewis donned a Willie bandanna to go with his braids and denim and embraced the weekend rocker within. His snakeskin boots led the catwalk strut of "Old Love, New Love," the grand soap opera of the lyrics flying higher and higher on the wings of extended synth solos. Twin Shadow's always drawn water from the well of big 1980s sounds and splashed it onto contemporary indie rock songwriting. (Well, sometimes the lyrics are all retro, too. See: "When we dance in the dark in the room where it all gets real," from the usually-Haim-assisted "Saturdays.")
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As is custom, Lewis said the band went to go see the Austin bats on Saturday night. No luck (“I didn’t see a single bat”), though he said he got some bat droppings for his trouble, which he looked at as good luck.
At various points, Lewis name-dropped Tom Petty and Steve McQueen. Dude loves a reference. Lewis' oaky vocals are all his own, though, having a ball on "Five Seconds" and crowd-favorite "Too Many Colors." Twin Shadow is the kind of act where you don't hate a ballad. In fact, Lewis' troubador take on "Turn Me Up" felt like it might turn into "Wicked Games" at any juncture. (This was a good thing.)
The good lord stayed on Twin Shadow's side all the way to the end. Those ominous clouds opened up just enough right as Lewis and bandmates warped into a wonderfully weird, atonal ballad. His voice crescendoed, and a little relief came through above and all around.