Tag Archives: the XX

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Four Tet Provides Something for Everyone

February 24th, 2014

Four Tet – Terminal 5 – February 22, 2014

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Over nearly 20 years, UK-based DJ, producer and musician Four Tet (otherwise known as Kieran Hebden) has explored a range of styles: from his post-rock and ambient-inspired work with the band Fridge to his loose, freewheeling jazz and electronic experiments with drummer Steve Reid to DJ sets at massive clubs all over the world, remixes of artists like the xx and Radiohead—and collaborations with Burial. On Saturday night at Terminal 5, throngs of folks greeted Four Tet ready to absorb his every beat, and he showcased an energetic and eclectic set, with hypnotic strobes and a shower of colorful balloons setting off things on the right foot.

A Four Tet DJ set is unique in that it manages to fuse all of his eclectic musical experiences and styles into a cohesive mix. For fans of his spacey, more ambient output, he’s got you covered. If you prefer grinding basslines and skittering beats, you’ll find them. If you love the way Four Tet can manipulate a vocal sample into a million different beats and combinations, he does that—leaving you shaking your head at just how effortless he makes it seem. Even Four Tet completists, who mentally catalog his many studio albums, remixes and live recordings, will have fun combing through the set to pinpoint recognizable samples and song elements.

Like any great DJ, Four Tet connects with his audience’s energy and knows how to time the ebb and flow of beats in ways that surprise and delight the revelers. And just as it should be, Saturday’s show flew by like any great night at the club does: an exhilarating multisensory experience of lights, colors, heat and sound. After an encore featuring a lively extended mix of “Sing,” from 2010’s There Is Love in You, all was quiet again, save for the popping of the last few balloons and the ringing in our ears. —Alena Kastin

 

 

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Good Times on a Friday Night

November 11th, 2013

Poliça – Webster Hall – November 8, 2013


With the release of their debut album, Give You the Ghost, last year, Minnesota electro-pop outfit Poliça quickly gained success, leading to opening slots for Bon Iver and the xx. The quartet, helmed by frontwoman Channy Leaneagh, manipulates vocals through loops and Auto-Tune to create a whirlpool of sound that sucks you in. At a nearly sold-out Webster Hall on Friday night, Poliça played before a backdrop depicting the cover of their latest full-length, Shulamith, and its material served as the meat of the evening’s set. With drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu (yes, there were two drummers with full kits) getting it started, Leaneagh’s gloved hands gesticulated for the opening song, “Spilling Lines.” The gloves were promptly removed for “Lay Your Cards Out,” off their previous album, Give You the Ghost.

Bassist Chris Bierden revved his strings on “Very Cruel” as Leaneagh slithered across the stage. Although there was little banter throughout the night, the singer simply offered, “I hope you all have a good time” to a roared response. As the house lights came on to the crash of cymbals during “Vegas,” it was clear that the fine folks at Webster Hall were having a ball. Before she introduced “Chain My Name,” Leaneagh disclosed that her mother gave her such a unique name in the hopes that she’d become a country singer. The first single from Shulamith would be the pixie songstress’s “country song.” Although the set closed, appropriately, with “So Leave,” the band came back onstage for a three-song encore. Bierden was the first to return, followed shortly thereafter by Leaneagh, who sang a slowed-down, yet shortened version of “Wandering Star.” With the pair of drummers joining them, the full band treated the crowd to a cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” before finishing the night with “Matty.”Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Glasser Headlines Stacked Showcase Tonight at Music Hall

October 15th, 2013

As Glasser, singer-songwriter-producer Cameron Mesirow makes dreamy, folk-tinged synth pop that’s earned her comparisons to the Cocteau Twins and even Joni Mitchell. Her debut full-length, Ring, was released to a fair amount of acclaim in 2010. In grading it an A-, the A.V. Club said, “It’s an ambitious, perhaps even hypercompositional debut, one whose strange beauty demands attention.” Glasser (above, doing “Treasury of We”) then took those tunes on the road, touring with the xx and Sigur Rós. But now she’s back with her recently released sophomore effort, Interiors (stream it below). It’s a more personal album—dealing with love and anxiety—about which NME notes: “Mesirow is in confident control of an inviting world that’s all her own.” See her, along with a stacked lineup of Kelela, Empress Of, Kirin Callinan and Lil’ Jabba, tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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The xx Sparkle at Radio City Music Hall

September 24th, 2013

The xx – Radio City Music Hall – September 23, 2013

The xx have managed to bypass any questions of a sophomore slump with their follow-up album, Coexist. Not much has changed with their overall sound, and fans are still enamored by their songs. The trio quietly fills atmospheres with a serenity that manages to encapsulate the attention of an entire audience. Their first gig at a sold-out Radio City Music Hall last night wouldn’t be any different. The delicate male-and-female vocals of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft effortlessly wove against the vast, ornate backdrop of the famed New York City establishment.

As floodlights blinded the audience, the black-clad trio took their places onstage setting off the evening with “Try.” Fans quickly rose for “Heart Skipped a Beat,” a favorite from the British three-piece’s debut album, xx. Another track from it, “Crystalised,” was reimagined with the delivery slowly dragged out for added drama. The night really took a turn as beats master Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) intertwined his own song “Far Nearer” with “Reunion.” From behind his MPC, the intro of delicately rattling steel drums climaxed into a series of double and triple beats, moving onlookers to dance among the velvet-upholstered seats. Smith continued his reign, undoubtedly breathing new life into familiar tune “Shelter.” With a crazy level of layered thump, Radio City became a nightclub sporting rays of lasers.

With little talk between songs, Sim’s few words describing the experience of playing the hallowed hall as “surreal” resonated with fans. “An incredible moment for us. This was just something we started as a hobby in our bedroom.” Nearing the end of the set, the audience joined in to sing, “I can’t give it up” on “Infinity.” Not to leave the crowd wanting more, the trio returned to encore with “Intro” and “Angels.” The latter fittingly closed the night with lyrics “Being as in love with you as I am/ Being as in love, love, love”—to which, Sim made a heart shape with his hands as he exited the stage. The love was, needless to say, mutual. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

(The xx and Polica play Radio City Music Hall again tonight.)

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Ahead of Their New Album, Alpine Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

March 6th, 2013

Alpine, a six-piece from Down Under—singer Phoebe Baker, guitarist Christian O’Brien, backing vocalist Louisa James, keyboardist Tim Royal, bassist Ryan Lamb and drummer Phil Tucker—formed in 2009. They put out an EP, Zurich, the following year. Filled with five lush, hypnotic songs combining dance and post-punk sounds, it earned the Melbourne band comparisons to Phoenix and the xx. A proper LP, A Is for Alpine, comes our here in late spring, but Alpine (above, doing “Gasoline” for Australia’s Ripe TV) are out on the road now. See them, alongside Lightyear, tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.

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The xx Leave Them Wanting More

January 28th, 2013

The xx – Hammerstein Ballroom – January 25, 2013


Both on record and during their live performances, London’s the xx have proved to be masters of dramatic tension. Although their music can be lush and layered, for the most part the band gives their songs room to breathe—spare guitar lines and plaintive vocals are followed by heavy pauses, and percussion often doesn’t kick in until mid-song. While this can be a potential test of patience on their records, live, the xx expertly play with these moments, building exhilarating tension as the crowd waits for that beat to kick in or that hook to start. Because of this, an xx show can feel like a well-executed tease.

At their sold-out show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night, the trio had the crowd in the palm of their hand from opening song “Angels”—performing the intro on a dark stage while obscured by a screen projected with abstract, shape-shifting images. As the beat kicked in, the screen dropped, revealing the black-clad band beneath three striking spotlights. But moments later, they were once again shrouded in darkness, and the song was over, like a sharp knife, expertly polished and leaving a clean cut.

The band performed a mix of newer songs from their 2012 album, Coexist, alongside crowd favorites like “VCR,” “Night Time” and “Crystalised” from their self-titled 2009 debut album. The moody, understated material and dim stage managed to create the intimate environment their music demands. The trio’s tunes have a subtle but undeniable inclination toward electronic music, and the dance breakdowns emphasized on songs like the steel drum–augmented “Reunion,” as well as “Night Time” and “Sunset,” contrasted the precise and exacting nature of the their music with moments of abandon and release. Of course, the xx were sure to cut off these uninhibited moments after not too long, always leaving us wanting more. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com

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Alt-J Are Worthy of the Buzz

September 13th, 2012

Alt-J – The Bowery Ballroom – September 12, 2012


There was a certain geometric incoherence in play as hotly buzzed UK band Alt-J took the stage at a very sold-out Bowery Ballroom last night. Everyone was jammed together in this glorified square to see a band that insisted they were a triangle. See, Alt-J contend their name is more than a collection of letters, instead representing the outcome of a keyboard command, the combination of “Alt” and “J,” which on a Mac makes the shape of a triangle, making their very name an unspeakable symbolic iconography. Every face in the audience pointed toward four faces onstage offering seemingly infinite possibilities. This would all seem overwrought, if it weren’t for the uncommon quality of the band’s debut, An Awesome Wave, and their bizarre and brilliant live show. Somehow helpless against their insistence on three-way vanishing points—or how affected and silly this would seem in less capable hands—the audience and the band intersected over and over, creating a cohesive, if pleasantly limited, little world inside these invented boundaries.

The band opened with “(Interlude 1),” with a choir joining them to offer the band’s Baroque-ish two-part harmonies a chilling and elegiac varnish. One part Mumford & Sons and one part the xx, Alt-J slid between slow-drive, sexy arrangements and these warm duets between guitarist Joe Newman and keys player Gus Unger-Hamilton. “Something Good” and “Dissolve Me,” mid-album and middle-set songs expanded this notion of austere vocals and ebullient keyboard-driven arrangements, accented brightly with tactile guitar picking and high-fret work. The band played their best song, “Breezeblocks,” near the end, the track’s punching vocals and guitars ringing through the balconies as the audience shuffled around chanting lines like “Do you know where the wild things go?” The song’s conclusion, a collision of the lyrics “Please don’t go, I love you so” and “I’d eat you whole,” an awesome and approachable angle to a band that values its weirdness as much as its beautiful arrangements.

“This is the last song on the album,” Unger-Hamilton mumbled over the din as Alt-J returned to play “Taro” as the encore. At least one person in the crowd made the reference that is as controversial as it is possibly correct: “Radiohead.” This is a bit of branding too loaded even for a band currently touring with a gigantic neon triangle as their backdrop. However, there was something undeniable happening here. Alt-J finished the haunting last chords of “Taro” and held up a slightly altered version of the “diamonds in the sky,” triangle-ish hand sign that Jay-Z and Kanye West initiated with a straight face in 2005. The crowd returned it in kind having fully embraced this iconography of two lines and three points. The audience and the band made two of these three, one of the year’s best albums brought to the stage made the third at The Bowery Ballroom, a tidy and discrete geometric universe, a triangle inside a square. —Geoff Nelson

 

 

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The xx Hold Up Their End of the Bargain

August 3rd, 2012

The xx – Terminal 5 – August 2, 2012


The xx are one of those bands critics sometimes narrowly define by considering the ideal setting to listen to their music. They are “music for the bedroom” or, even worse, “make-out music.” Either categorization is cringe-worthy, but it does beg the question of how the delicate minimalism of the xx can translate into a live setting, especially in a large venue like Terminal 5. With a new album on the way (Coexist comes out here on 9/11), the xx played a few shows in big U.S. cities before returning to Europe for a several more.

And last night New York City was fortunate enough to be one of those cities, giving fans the chance to hear some of the new material as well as old favorites off the band’s instant-classic debut. With a giant X illuminated in the background, the xx opened with the new tune “Angels.” And judging from how many in the audience were singing along to every word, it already seems to be a new favorite. Older songs like “Crystalised,” off their self-titled debut album, when performed live, sounded even more sparse and slowed down than on their recordings. The track was stripped down to its few vital elements, making it seem fragile enough that it could disintegrate into nothingness at any moment, like the song’s own survival seemed beautifully hinged on the words being sung.

To set the mood throughout the set, the house and stage lights were limited to shades of white, black and the occasional blue. At various times, the show was unexpectedly danceable. The first half of “Night Time” was performed without a drum beat, so when it finally kicked in, it was like the song became whole with the addition of a driving rhythm that was outlined to be there. But in other instances, like on “VCR,” the heartbeat-mimicking drum-and-bass rhythm was the music’s backbone. From the slight reinterpretations of their old songs to the sneak peak of new ones, it’s safe to say that the xx hold up their end of the bargain live. The music was engaging enough that, quite thankfully, there was very little making out for this “make-out music.” —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong | dianawongphoto.com

(The xx play Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island on Monday and the Paradise Theater in the Bronx on 10/26 and 10/28.)

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See the xx on 8/2

July 31st, 2012

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London trio the xx has a new album, Coexist, due out in September, and they’ve already released a haunting new single, “Angels.” Once the record is released, the band will return for two dates at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx, on 10/26 and 10/28, but this week they play a sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Thursday. The House List is giving away two tickets. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (the xx, 8/2) and a brief message explaining your music-related plans for August. Eddie Bruiser, who’s trying to get his in order, will notify the winner by Thursday. Good luck.

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The xx – Webster Hall – March 31, 2010

April 1st, 2010

The xx - Webster Hall - March 31, 2010

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com

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The XX Marks the Spot

December 2nd, 2009


In 2005, four schoolmates—Romy Madley Croft (vocals and guitar), Baria Qureshi (keyboards and guitar), Oliver Sim (vocals and bass) and Jamie Smith (beats and samples)—who shared a similar taste in music, from the Cure to the Pixies to Missy Elliott, joined together to form the XX. The band’s self-titled debut, marked by quiet vocal duets and an efficient use of samples, came out earlier this year to much acclaim. Last month, Qureshi left the band, citing exhaustion. But the show must go on, so the XX continues as a trio. They open for Friendly Fires this Saturday at Webster Hall, but that show is sold out (although you can try to Grow a Pair of free tickets). Fortunately, the XX will be back on April 22nd at Terminal 5. Check them out, above, playing “Night Time” on Later…with Jools Holland.

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A First Date with the XX

November 12th, 2009

The XX/Jon Hopkins – The Bowery Ballroom – November 11, 2009

(Photo: Mina K)

(Photo: Mina K)

The XX show that sold out Mercury Lounge last night, and then subsequently The Bowery Ballroom, was one for the pretty people. It was a scene, but it was all the better thanks to the eye candy! Pretty people have good taste in music, too. Anyhow, Jon Hopkins, the opener, definitely deserves a mention because his fantastic mixing of melodies and crazy beats was unassuming, yet it totally entranced the jaded hipsters (some of whom even danced!) waiting for the headliners.

It was my first time seeing the XX live, in spite of the number of shows they have played in NYC over the last few months. At the start of their set I thought they sounded a bit forced, almost metronomic, and I kept wanting them to slip up. This distance, however, seems to be a calculated effort. Their seductive vocals are perfectly counterbalanced by the bass and synth beats, so seeing them live is, in the words of a friend, much like a first date—the initial impression is great, but the future potential is all in your imagination. This dynamic creates a very interesting energetic suspension, particularly on songs like “Basic Space,” and their closer, “Stars.” Listeners are drawn to the songs but slightly rebuffed before they can get inside them. Overall, the appeal of a band like the XX is much like the promise of a kiss (or more) at the end of the night—always something to look forward to, whether or not it actually happens. —Anna Loosli

(Jon Hopkins opens for the Asteroids Galaxy Tour tonight at Mercury Lounge.)

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The XX – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 23, 2009

October 26th, 2009

The XX - Music Hall of Williamsburg - October 23, 2009

Photos courtesy of Mina K

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CMJ Music Marathon Starts Today!

October 20th, 2009

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The CMJ Music Marathon starts today, and The Bowery Presents has plenty of choices for you with multiple shows all week long at The Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge and Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out what some of the people at The House List are most excited to see:

Having had “Crystalised” playing on repeat for at least two straight weeks, it’s an understatement to say that I am looking forward to watching the xx perform at CMJ (Music Hall of Williamsburg, Friday). I have also heard there is some great hair I should try to catch on camera. ZAZA is on the wish list because I have yet to witness the atmospheric magic spun by my enchanting friend Jennie. I’ll also try to make the Screaming Females show (Mercury Lounge, Wednesday). I saw them last on Valentine’s Day, when that itty-bitty girl shredded her guitar into itty-bitty heart-shaped pieces. Her vocals hark back to the Dead Kennedys, which wins my deepest reverence. —Mina Kim, Photographer

I’ve got a list of bands I will try to see, among them Bang Bang Eche, an energetic electro-rock group from New Zealand. Check out their new single, “Fistful of Dollars,” and you can catch them around town on Wednesday. (Plus they’ve got shows next week at Music Hall, October 26th, and Mercury Lounge, October 27th.) Fanfarlo’s dreamy melodies and aching lyrics should be a big hit this year. They’re playing Music Hall tonight and The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow. The other group I am desperate to see is School of Seven Bells—playing Music Hall on Friday—who will blow your mind live. This band put out one of my favorite albums last year and is definitely worth checking out if you can make it. —Anna Loosli, Writer

I’m most excited for two Bowery Ballroom shows—Deer Tick on Thursday and then Portugal. The Man on Friday. I must admit that I love Deer Tick. With their tight songwriting and loose live performances, they’re a must-see band every time they play NYC. I’ve only had the chance to see Portugal. The Man twice, at Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, but each time I’ve found them eminently listenable and intriguing, and not just because of their strangely punctuated band name. —R. Zizmor, Editor

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Sprawling, Freewheeling Music on a Friday Night

August 10th, 2009

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros/the XX – Mercury Lounge – August 7, 2009

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
It’s not every band that schleps its own upright piano onto the Mercury Lounge stage with them…or has a tall blonde in evening wear playing an accordion for that matter. Then again, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros aren’t just any band. Falling somewhere in the spectrum between Rusted Root and the Polyphonic Spree, their show was more like communal living through music, a tribal ritual rather than a rock concert. High energy and positive vibes flowed from percussion, guitars, bass, piano and vocals, as well as ukulele, trumpet and, yes, an accordion, which were all eagerly consumed by the crowd. Was that eight people onstage? Nine? 10? Frankly, there was no border—the band extended all the way to the back of the room with the audience playing its part with sing-alongs and masterful clap-along breakdowns in many of the songs. With microphones planted all over the stage, harmonies came from anywhere and everywhere. This was irony-free Free to Be…You and Me: The more upbeat, the better it sounded.

The XX played an earlier set that was plagued by sound problems. The quartet dressed almost entirely in head-to-toe black, and their music was a surprising drug. Narcotic melodies lay softly on a bed of drum machines and synthesizers like something out of a tripped-out prom scene in a John Hughes film. Tunes were short-lived and punctuated by Explosions-in-the-Sky-esque guitar riffs. And then the amp gave out altogether. —A. Stein