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April 6, 2010

The xx at Webster Hall, 3/31

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?


Ashwin said...

It's so disappointing to hear about such an awesome band fall so flat! They say "it's still weird going up on stage"! ( They are so restrained.

Compare that with how amazingly energetic and comfortable Yukimi was with Little Dragon at MHOW. Watching her tear it up made everyone, literally everyone, want to dance. So impressive and so fun

Megan said...

ok. so i'm not so bummed i missed it. i think i was DANCING that night.

Anonymous said...

wow, were we at the same show?
it had seemed to have been received as unanimously incredible from where i was standing.
Oliver's stage presence and voice was incredibly strong i'd thought, he is a definite icon in the making.

The way it built then held back and so forth then ended in that explosion at the end of Infinity was ingenious.
I'd seen them in October and really disliked it, something has very suddenly clicked as they felt like such accomplished rock stars/performers to me that night. Also, that had to have been the best entrance i'd ever seen at a concert.

I've just spent a while reading reviews of the show to see if everyone else really did share my admiration for the performance. This was the only reviewi've found that isn't praising The xx for that performance.
Each to their own i know, but come one, wow.