Photos: Twin Shadow at the Granada Theater, and “Cool Out” at Crown and Harp

Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. just might be the most disarmingly charming musician I’ve ever met. As you may be aware, artists are often not exactly what one would call “socially graceful.” But at his Granada appearance earlier this week, he dropped this compliment on an eager audience: “I would have never thought that Texas would be my favorite place to tour.” Eruption. He told us he felt our “Texan energy.” That’s like something a one-night-stand says in a European hostel. Just how does he get away with this?

I had dinner at The Grape with Twin Shadow last fall, having been invited by House of Plates, the local food and music site, that has a very enviable habit of taking happening musicians out to meals at highly-ranked restaurants. The band was in good spirits, playfully discussing everything from censored Biggie lyrics on Spotify, to their favorite make-out records. Also present was their tour manager, a powerfully calm and efficient woman named Erin Kapor, who had worked for Downtown Music and interned for Vice. I can’t name the members of House of Plates because they’re anonymous, and I can certainly respect that, but it included the founder of the site and an intern.

Before dinner begins, I order a prosecco, and Lewis says he’ll have one too, Sam Adams-commercial style. Again, with the charm. Maybe it was Twin Shadow, maybe it was The Grape. The restaurant is seductive. I once accidentally went on a date there that I didn’t know was a date. It simply has that effect. This place could have you making eyes at your probation officer. Maybe it’s the Kobe Beef Bavette, or a tenderloin that falls apart if you even glance at it. But that night, it could have been the party boat orgy of nearly half-a-dozen desserts.

Throughout the meal, Lewis is asked a variety of mostly light questions by House of Plates. His bandmates all gave often hilarious answers as well, including keyboardist Wynne Bennett,  bassist Russell Manning, and drummer Andy Bauer, who was humorously deadpan. “I want you guys to print total lies,” Lewis declares boisterously. “Like, Twin Shadow gave us all handj*bs.” Everyone laughs. His jokes are actually funny.

At one point, the House of Plates founder asks if the group will sign a plate to add to their growing collection of commemorative dishes signed by notable musicians. Instead of merely signing, George Lewis Jr. decides he will draw all of the present members of the media. At this point, he is either maintaining the charm offensive, or he is merely trolling us. It’s a fine line, but we’re eating it up, as much as we are slightly nervous. When asked if the drawing will be “caricatures,” Lewis replies that it will be “realistic.” “Do realists smirk this much when they’re working?,” I ask.

Finally, after the delightful bludgeoning of courses, the Grape’s Brian Luscher comes by to thank the band for being there. “I want to shake your hand,” says Lewis respectfully, and he stands to do so. Luscher responds credibly about his appreciation for the group.  “I was digging on the new record, man. I listened to it like three times straight in a row just today. And a bunch of times this week.” He continues in a way that only a restaurant owner can. “Hopefully it’s very prosperous, and all your work pays off.”

Flash forward to the Granada show, and Twin Shadow is still laying it on thick, even promising a new record—a fool’s promise—by night’s end. The proceedings started off on a high note anyway, with one of the more entertaining opening acts I’ve seen in months. The dubiously monikered Elliphant hails from Sweden and performs a heavily Carribean-influenced take on pop, as singer Ellinor Olovsdotter takes on the roles of both Beenie Man and Mya in “Girls Dem Sugar,” if you’ll allow an obvious crossover example. She bounces from quickly flitting rap verse to engorged agave choruses and seems hardly winded. This is all while a grinning DJ looks on who throws peace sign-after-peace sign to the audience. The duo sometimes came off as strangely as another weirdo duo, a local outfit called Pocket Change.

Later in the evening it seems that the entirety of the Granada had found itself in the much smaller confines of “Cool Out,” Tony Schwa’s triumphantly resurrected Monday residency at The Crown and Harp, formerly the Cavern. It’s one-in, one-out for a while, which seems an impossibility for a DJ night on Greenville Ave. in 2013. It’s also the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, and both Schwa and his guest, DJ Sober, have noticed. They scour the hits, even letting “Rockin’ Robin” flap about the room for a minute. It still flies. I dance, and I never dance.

I eventually run into a friend I grew up with named Art Munoz, and he’s a metal guy; I’m surprised to see him at “Cool Out.” “Who are you here with?,” I ask incredulously. “Twin Shadow, man.” He had invited Art and assorted other fans to join him after the show. When Lewis greets me, he claims to remember having dinner together. I wonder if it’s true. Does it matter?

All photos by Andi Harman.