Watch: The xx at Webster Hall
Seeing The xx last week reminded me why I didn’t like concerts as a kid. The sound was way off; I didn’t even want to sing along it was so quiet. And I was standing in front, next to a tower of speakers. They sounded better in my room.
Overall the evening was just pretty snoozy. Nosaj Thing from LA opened with a great set, but was followed by boring jj. I really wanted to like jj—I find their music interesting and some of the songs catchy, and I really dig the whole Lil’ Wayne thing, but... blah! You can’t just stand on stage at Webster Hall singing softly and hiding behind your hair. Even if you are Swedish. Even if you are projecting a video of an Italian soccer match behind you (what is this, a sports bar?).
The xx’s stage presence was just as unimpressive. They seemed more confident than when I saw them in October, but not better. Romy doesn’t have to do much to please; her voice is captivating. There were cheers whenever it got to her part of the song, every time (and let’s be real—hers are the best parts). Oliver was less loved. His vocals were uninspired, which made it feel like he was just killing time until Romy came back on. Plus he kept waving his guitar around like a wannabe guitar hero. Jamie, the band's unsung hero, was the most impressive, running between drums and keys, making everything happen. But that was hardly a surprise— Jamie's responsible for some of the best remixes yet this year. He's got it worked.
I know that The xx’s music is subdued, but what makes it great is that each song really builds at the chorus. There was no build at Webster Hall. None at all. The whole performance was flat. And the worst part was, after a two-song encore (which the crowd didn't exactly demand), their version of Florence and the Machine’s “You Got the Love” began to play...... right as the lights went on and the band walked off the stage! It was background music, to leave to. I felt slapped.
Did I mention that no one danced? Maybe it's wrong of me to judge how good a show is by how many people dance. But isn't that what it's all about? Isn't there something wrong when you're at a show and you don't want to move?