Twin Sister & Ava Luna Get the Groove Going Last Night at the Vera Project

twin sister

By Erin Thompson

Twin Sister
Vera Project
Tuesday, February 7

Much of the crowd gathered in the Vera Project last night to watch Lemolo inexplicably cleared out right after the local duo played their opening set, which is a shame, because they missed a couple of worlds-more-interesting sets from the two touring bands from New York who topped the bill. The last time I saw Twin Sister was in October of 2010; they stole the show that night, but the year-plus that's since passed has turned them into an even sharper live band. (Which isn't much of a surprise, as they spent much of 2011 on the road in support of their debut full-length, In Heaven).

Andrea Estrella, who is tiny, looks like a living doll, and appeared last night in a plaid shirt and cloudy white hair teased out like an electrocution victim, has developed into an onstage natural. The ending of the band's single "Bad Street," where Estrella chants over a squiggly synth ("Bad house/Bad street/Big hands/Big feet...") was one of my favorite grooves of 2011; the song translates even better live, where it can meander freely and the beat can thrum throughout the entire room. Like most of Twin Sister's songs, "Bad Street" is equal parts interesting instrumentation combined with Estrella's cool and collected vocals.

No two songs on In Heaven sound alike. Twin Sister is a pop band that's shrugged off the need to finalize a signature sound. Some of the songs sound like lullabies, carried by Estrella and Eric Cardona's melting vocal harmonies; "Spain" could be the theme to a James Bond film, with Estrella as a breathy Bond girl. But the band's best songs are the ones that are propulsive and groove-oriented, like the swinging "Stop" and the fluent "Daniel." Last night, the dreamy "All Around and Away We Go" got a excited response from the audience, but the set eventually evaporated from familiar pop music to an extended, 20-plus minute instrumental jam. Estrella left the stage. The crowd began filtering out. But the band kept playing increasingly formless noise, daring someone to categorize them.

BTW: The Brooklyn collective Ava Luna has been touring with Twin Sister and are one of my favorite discoveries of the new year. Ava Luna is a sextet that somehow squished together onto the Vera stage; their music is sharp and soulful, buzzing with seamless three-part vocal harmonies. It sounds a little bit like James Blake, a little bit like '90s R&B. Felicia Douglass and Becca Kauffman are the two doo-wopping female singers; Carlos Hernandez is the guitarist and lead vocalist of sorts; he looks like your chemistry TA but has the sugary sweet voice of a sexy soul god. After seeing them play last night, I'm beyond hyped for Ava Luna's new record, Ice Level, which comes out later this month.

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Twin Sister & Ava Luna Get the Groove Going Last Night at the Vera Project
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