Twin Temple in St. Pete: Delicious blasphemy with a ’60s beat

Live Review

Twin Temple. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Live Review: Twin Temple ‘God Is Dead’ Tour with VOWWS at Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, FL – February 21, 2024

For the last couple of years, I’ve been intrigued by the music of Twin Temple. Since I was weaned on Motown music in the ‘burbs of Detroit and always attracted to the dark side, I find the band’s melding of the two intriguing. When I look back at the history of rock, there have always been bands with satanic symbols or what many would consider to be blasphemy to the Christian religion. The media seemed to hype up Coven, Iron Butterfly, Black Sabbath, and Blue Öyster Cult as “occult bands,” whether true or not. Even Alice Cooper was thought to be ‘satanic’ based on his theatrical shows, which featured guillotines and songs like “I Love the Dead.”

Lo and behold, on a frigid Florida night (in the high 40s), the goth crowd gathered at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida. There were plenty of 8-inch high Frankenstein heels, spooky face makeup, and bat wings. A couple of guys wearing nun’s habits and bible purses wandered in the crowd. I have seen the duo in Tampa Bay in the past (when I attended a SlutWalk protest).

I sat near the merch booth and watched patrons clamor to purchase t-shirts at $45 a pop. It was unusual to hear 50s music and songs like “Spanish Harlem” playing over the P.A. system rather than hard rock or metal.

VOWWS. Photo by Chyrisse.

The evening’s entertainment opened with the Australian duo VOWWS. Now based in L.A., the band’s music sounded like a cross between the Sisters of Mercy, Siouxie & the Banshees, and late-80s industrial music. The stage was smoky and barely lit as the band performed songs like “The Great Sun” and “Impulse Control.” Their music is dark, moody, and danceable.

After the band broke down their instruments, stagehands began to create an altar for the Twin Temple set. Large upside crosses, and a curtain depicting a satan figure with breasts decorated the stage.

The crowd pushed forward toward the stage as the members of Twin Temple approached their instruments. Alexandra James, wearing a pink frilly babydoll dress and massive beehive hairdo, walked toward the front of the stage. Zachary James (who resembles Adam Driver), wearing a Western Nudie suit with musical note appliques, began performing a ritual by tossing fluid from a cup onto the audience.  The ritual continued as both approached the makeshift alter and held swords in the air. It was all very serious until they broke into the ’60s-tinged “Sex Magick.” The crowd went wild, dancing, holding up devil horns, and singing along with the song.

Alexandra James of Twin Temple. Photo by Chyrisse.

There was plenty of playful banter from James, who asked the crowd, “Have you been evil?” and “Are there any protestors out there?” When somebody yelled “No,” she remarked how disappointing that was.

The blasphemous 60s party continued with songs like “I Am A Witch” and “Burn Your Bible.” James’ voice is phenomenal with its power and tone—and this was live—no autotune. Pure talent. The band’s musicianship was fantastic, and they got kudos for donning a sax player, which gave the songs the savoir-faire.

Twin Temple. Photo by Chyrisse.

James asked, “Are there any lovers in the crowd? At Twin Temple, we believe you should be able to love whoever you want.” After pausing a second, she continued, “Well, we are in Florida afterall.” The band launched into the love song “Lucifer.” I looked around and saw couples cuddling, swaying arm and arm, and dancing.

The concert was nothing less than phenomenal entertainment, from the set decorations to the costumes to the music. I hummed and sang “Slut” to myself, walking to the parking garage.
Next time they come to town, I will definitely see them again.

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Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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