Sunday, 14 April 2013

Gig Review - The xx

Last week, both Katie and I had the pleasure of seeing The XX live, so, just because we can, we decided we should both review the gig. Welcome to our first combined gig review, where we look at both X's, which would of course be The xx.

The XX
Live at The Convention Centre, Brisbane (09/04/13)
Review by Katie Langley and Jo Michelmore

Katie: I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this show. Often you develop your own preconceived notions about how big the crowd will be, how they will react, and of course how the band will actually perform. For me, not knowing what to expect is ideal because you can succumb to the experience without constantly comparing to these notions.

Jo: I thought I knew what to expect from this show. I'm a fan of The xx, but they're not a band I necassarily enjoy out of the comforts of my own home. This is the kind of music I chill to, I fall asleep to and just between you and I, maybe I sometimes get depressed to; this is not an experience I know I want to share with heaps of other people. However, having a couple of friends who adore them, I took the opportunity of seeing them live and decided to get myself a ticket and jump in head first. It could be a couple of hours of slightly uncomfortable or it could be a couple of hours of amazing.


Katie: Sydney trio Jagwar Ma kicked off the evening with their eclectic 90’s rock electronic thang. I spent their whole set trying to figure out who or what they sounded like. What I came up with is a sort of Perry Farrell/Gallagher brothers’ style vocal where the songs begin at a rock show and end up at a nightclub. Confused? So was I until I realised that was the appeal. Jagwar Ma can’t be stereotyped, and that’s perfectly OK with me because I dug it, although, I’m not sure that the rest of the crowd felt the same. My favourite part of their set was when the bass player downed tools in favour of dancing.

Jo: So, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right, which meant securing a spot at the very front and waiting patiently. What that meant was awkwardly sitting against the stage barrier while watching the unexpectedly young and too fashionable cool kid crowd walk in. This is not the audience I expected, and I suspected many were there to hear one song, which is on one hand a really cool thing; the fact that one song can introduce a band to a new legion of fans and on the other hand slightly annoying, because you end up with a crowd of uninterested strangers listening to music that I consider a friend.

The support Jagwar Ma are a sometimes two piece, sometimes three piece electro/rock/dance/noisy band from Sydney. Perhaps the fact that they can't seem to decide how many members they have explained their sound, because they sounded like they can't quite figure out who they are or who they want to be. I will give credit, they were quite energetic, but the energy for me just didn't translate into anything excitable, just a little annoying. They sounded like they had a 'Madchester' Happy Mondays/Stone Roses kind of vibe, and I suppose if one was to participate in some intoxictaing substances they might have been amazing, but I think my friend Matthew summed it up best when he said; "the mac has done to music what the iphone has done to photography. Just because you can take a picture doesn't make you a photographer...and owning a computer program does not make you a composer". Well said my friend, well said. 


Katie: After an uncomfortably long intermission during which I contemplated life and wished I’d worn shoes with better sole support the lights dimmed and out sauntered The xx. Despite being in the second row I found it difficult to see the stage clearly and also felt it was hard to gauge the reaction of the crowd. Moving further back proved to be a good decision - I was able to see the close onstage interaction between Oliver and Romy and feel the buzz of the room.

I admit that I’ve only recently discovered The xx so was shocked by the number of punters, and was delighted to see that a lot of them were up for a sing-a-long and boogie. The crowd favourites were “VCR” and encore song “Angels” (although I did stand awkwardly behind a couple who started sucking face when they heard the lyrics “they would be as in love with you as I am” - vom).

Jo: There's not a lot, but here's something I do not like about live music: incredibly long intermissions. I don't know what was going on and no amount of "c'mon guys" to the security guards helped, the time between Jagwar Mar and The xx on a Tuesday night felt like forever. Thankfully, when they finally appeared, The xx made up for the wait. With the opening sounds of 'Try', a wave of goosebumps and a rapturous applause from the audience, everything was ok again. Songs like Sunset, Reunion and Swept Away were incredible, the exceptional talents of both Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim were undeniable but the thing I found most fascinating was watching Jamie xx (Smith), moving across his playground of a desk at the back of the stage, playing all variety of percussion and tapping a whole bunch of instruments I couldn't even imagine through the impressive lighting and constant lovely haze of smoke hanging around the stage.

Of course, the raising of the backdrop curtain toward the end of the set to reveal their famous giant 'X' was a real crowd pleaser, as were the opening notes of the song so many came to see 'Angels'. Such a strong track, it's not surprising this is the one that so many have fallen in love with and although I'm probably the biggest fan of the audience singalong, it may take a while for the sound of that strong Australian accent nearby screaming (completely off key) "beeeeinnn as in luuuuurve with yoooouuuuu...." Regardless, at least she enjoyed it and that's one of the great things about live music, everyone enjoys it in their own way.

Katie: There is a tenderness and vulnerability to The xx that makes you close your eyes and let it wash over you. I thought some of this was lost a little in the size of the venue, but did appreciate that this allowed for the giant light fixture “X” that was revealed towards the end of the show.
It was good, but was it great? I’m not sure. But would I see them again? You betcha!

Jo: The xx are one of those bands for me that are a completely personal thing. I adore what I adore of them, but that doesn't mean I adore what everyone else adores of them. This gig? A little adoration, a little admiration and a bunch of live music memories that I'm happy to add to my collection. The best part? Seeing the absolute bliss and delight on my friends faces when the house lights turned on, this was one of their favourite bands and to see them loving who they love so much was such a pleasure to share with them, and yet again, one of the reasons live music is one of my favourite things in the world.   

You can check out a couple of our pics of The xx in Brisbane on itsmykindofscene on instagram, as well as all the other gigs we go to!

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