Monday, April 5, 2010

The xx at Webster Hall 3/31/2010

I've made it known that The xx was not a band I immediately liked. The first time I saw them play in October during CMJ, they seemed nervous and overwhelmed and their minimalist brand of quiet R&B pop didn’t translate well in a live setting.

Since then, The xx have definitely grown up. Wednesday night’s show at Webster Hall turned them into fully-fledged rock stars. In my humble opinion, this show was really important for the young band. This is their first ever headlining tour of the U.S. Not only was almost everyone I know (on Twitter and In Real Life) there, but NYC is a tough audience and I guarantee that about a third of the people in attendance have music blogs. While their first U.S. performances may have garnered unenthusiastic reviews from listeners who preferred the record to their live show (yours truly included), this week they solidified themselves as a band that demands your attention, right now and for years down the line. Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft finally know how to handle a crowd and their stage show finally emulates the simple brilliancy that is captured on their debut album xx. I can totally picture myself in about 40 years telling 19-year-old fan boys/girls that “I saw The xx at Webster Hall in March 2010” and I can totally picture them thinking I must have been really awesome back then.

They opened with the wonderfully epic “Intro” (what else could they have opened with?) and I only imitated Apollo Ono for about a half second before I became hypnotized by the larger-than-life silhouette projections of the band members on the huge white sheet they were playing behind. When the song ended, the sheet dropped, perfectly timed. It was probably one of the best show openings I’ve seen.

They played “Crystalised” next, which is a ballsy move considering it’s probably their most recognizable song and most bands would save the best for last in order to leave the stage on a high note. But The xx had no problem keeping the audience engaged for the remainder of the night. Their performances of “Heart Skipped A Beat,” “VCR,” and “Shelter” sounded as precise as the recordings, while added electronics gave “Night Time” a thicker sound. They played one cover; Kyla’s “Do You Mind” and their reimagining of the song made you second-guess whether or not this wasn’t an xx track all along.

My only complaint was that they weren’t loud enough. This was a comment I overheard from many of my fellow spectators, almost all of whom had a friend who replied, “Yeah, but being loud really isn’t their thing, man.” I agree. The music of The xx is soft, subtle, and delicate. But when I see a band live, I don’t want to be able to hear the guy five people down from me exclaim “Dude, I can’t believe Pitchfork calls these guys goth.” (I have no idea whether or not this statement is true.) They finally turned it up for “Stars” which they played for their encore.

They’ve certainly come a long way since CMJ. I think this is the last time a ticket to see The xx is under $30.

I feel like I need to comment on the lighting. It was awesome.

Don't the "x"s on the decks look cool?

jj was awful.

Also on The xx front, there is this really neat mash-up of The xx songs with Notorious B.I.G. classics. It's from new DJ wait what and you can listen/download here.

Photos courtesy of BrooklynVegan.

1 comment:

  1. It always feels good when a new band makes it to the next level. I wish them luck.