Jamie xx – Terminal 5 – August 8, 2015
Brits love bass, especially their DJs. UK Bass, garage, house—call it what you will—our friends across the pond have a mastery of the low ends of the sound spectrum, and Jamie xx nears the top of the list of artists currently working that territory. Fresh of the release of his debut album, In Colour, Jamie xx sold out Terminal 5 lightning fast, likely even faster than when his band, the xx, had their own show at the venue. Demand was high enough for the black market to be opportunistic, you could see the ticket booths walking into Terminal 5 stacked with voided fake tickets sold by advantageous scalpers.
Jamie xx began his set with the isolated soulful vocals of “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” as a soft, golden light filled the room. He caters to the modern-day record collector, pulling samples from unusual sources, giving love to long-forgotten albums. Jamie xx keeps a Spotify playlist of songs from his DJ sets that has almost 35,000 followers. His set on Saturday night was like a journey from the ’60s to present. He began with some doo-wop samples, moving into funkier territory reminiscent of the ’70s, then onto glitzy synth noises of the ’80s, before getting straight up Aphex Twin-y with a dive into some acid techno, all the while sprinkling in his own songs where they fit best. At one point he may have even sampled the giggling girls you hear in that ’90s song we’re all trying hard to forget: “Macarena.” It all made for a neat effect, showcasing just how many styles his debut full-length album pulls from when you throw them into a spectrum of popular music from the past 50 years.
The bass was at times louder than I’ve ever heard it at any New York City venue, the bone-rattling kind that pushed the air so forcefully you coul feel it in your nose hairs. In its finest moments, that heavy bass was capable of taking command of your pulse—and about that loud in every little nook and cranny throughout Terminal 5 (the place has a lot of nooks and crannies). All anyone ever really saw of Jamie xx was his silhouette, digging through his crate of records for his next pick. In the set’s finest moments, the lights were synced to fill the place with disco-ball radiant light, something I imagine everyone in the audience has at least 50 pictures of, maybe three of them actually good. The set wound down with “Loud Places” and its incredibly relevant opening lines: “I go to loud places/
To search for someone/ To be quiet with/ Who will take me home.” Maybe some did find that person, but they should expect ringing ears when it finally gets quiet.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks