My experience seeing The xx was like losing my virginity. I built up these high expectations, only to realize three songs into the set that well—“what’s the big deal?” Don’t get me wrong it was great (and I said the same thing to her), but the pressure, the anticipation, the hope for something out of this world—well it was all just one big sigh of “yeah.” Totally a satisfying experience, but I can’t say I will talk as excitedly about the group.
The xx took the stage dressed in all black with fog billowing behind them and their signature “XX” lit center-stage. As they played Romy Madley-Croft stood motionless, and I’d be damned not to call it shoe-gaze (strumming on the guitar staring at the exit sign). Meanwhile, bassist and vocalist Oliver Sim swayed back and for, arching his shoulder forward, wide eyed with a “don’t fuck with me” stare that’s typical of a rock star who likes the title “bad ass.” Except The xx is not ROCK, and is definitely not “badass.”
I get The xx aren’t playing to make friends, but where’s the showmanship? I enjoy their sound. I even wrote in my notes that “they sped up the tempo, and it sounds dirtier than your favorite martini, and I’m lapping that shit up.” Their lyrics are muffled over the heavy bass, and sample driven music, but the harmonies are tight. It’s easy to be lost in their music just like their album. Except, who wants a show that can only be compared to an album.
The experience–just wasn’t that much of an experience. Sure, I was blinded a few times by the over-powered strobe light equipment. I enjoyed as much as I could the DJ tapping away at three different MPC players. But it wasn’t until the end of the set when (male) said “Day two of the tour and I’m already losing my voice,” that for a brief second I felt like I was witnessing a performance.