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Review Fri Apr 09 2010

Review: The xx @ Lincoln Hall, 4/8

xx.jpg

The xx. (Photos by Katie Hovland)

Sometimes people ask me, "Why do you wear ear plugs to every show? That's not very rock'n'roll." Well, I'll let you in on a little secret: I don't wear ear plugs because I don't want to hear a show. I wear ear plugs to mute the inevitable audience chitchat. A prime example of when I need to do so was Thursday's late show by the xx at Lincoln Hall. The London trio's set was plagued by chatterboxes with nominal interest in the performance. (One girl near me spent at least 20 minutes with her back to the stage while trying to drown out the xx to converse with friends. How dare a headliner try playing over her shrill voice, right?)

However, if one could somehow hear past the MPDG/trixie racket, they may have found themselves at a pretty good show. The xx unsurprisingly began with "Intro" before moving on to single "Crystalised." Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, donned in black clothes and gold chains, traded indifferent and sensual vocals highlighted by a spectacular call-and-response on "Infinity" ('Give it up... I can't give it up'). For a band whose merchandise is only black and white, the show was wildly colorful. Reds and blues dominated the room as Croft stayed mostly still and Sim bounced around the stage intermittently, leaving beatmaker Jamie Smith to himself among tables full of gear. Throughout the evening all three were well in control of the melancholic atmospheres that their music subsists on. (Think if Robert Smith wrote some songs for Chairlift and Portishead produced them.) In addition to every track on their only album, they covered Kyla's "Do You Mind?" in a low-key fashion.

xx_2.jpg

The xx are a young band. Their musicianship isn't top-notch, but well on its way. (One slip during "Intro" was the only notable musical error.) With their album, they introduced listeners to a sound evoking the dream pop that Cocteau Twins once delivered masterfully. On a stage, they continue in that vein staying cool but passionate. Despite distractions in the crowd, they turned in a show appropriate for their music and an aesthetic that they have embraced. They appear to know exactly what they are doing. (When they did not return for an encore, some troglodytes found it appropriate to boo. Shame on them.)

Swedish indie-pop duo jj opened with a frustrating set that was drab and disingenuous. Singer Elin Kastlander's attempts to be brooding and seductive were negated upon stepping away from the microphone when not singing to joke with guitarist Joakim Benon. Too often a pre-programmed laptop was responsible for every amplified sound as the duo stood talking to each other until their cue to sing or play. The only effort to deliver any type of presentation was in video projections. Strangely, most of these featured the band themselves or were simply a song's official video. (The videos that weren't either were of a businessman dancing on a rooftop and a Zlatan Ibrahimović highlight reel.) Their only saving grace was that they did not use their entire allotted time.

 
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eric / April 9, 2010 5:19 PM

"Troglodytes" - very nice.

I hate it when people try to have a conversation during a show. I would have gladly taken her tickets if she didn't want to hear the band...

Surprised jj were that bad. I was kind of looking forward to seeing them at Pitchfork. Hmm..

Sarah / April 12, 2010 10:41 AM

I was at the early show, which fortunately had a much better audience. Granted, I was up in the balcony, which usually is less prone to attracting talkers and obnoxious types, but still. There was really a hush over the crowd during the silence between songs. I was pretty impressed, actually; I had debated not going to the show for a while because I expected many more troglodytes, as you so aptly put it.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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