Concert Review: The xx at The Complex | Buzz Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Concert Review: The xx at The Complex

Posted By on October 17, 2012, 12:10 PM

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No matter how far The xx skyrocketed into international fame after their 2009 self-titled debut, their lush, melancholy music always seemed like a secret -- like you were eavesdropping on intimate moments between singers Jamie Smith and Romy Madley Croft ---or you yourself were quietly sharing something with the two. At times, the music can seem so personal that it’s best to listen to it through headphones. Unfortunately, that’s not a feeling that can be recreated at a sold-out all-ages show, and the concert suffered for it.


As the hook for “Angels,” the set opener and lead single from the recently released Coexist, reverberated out into the crowd, with Croft repeatedly chant-singing, “Being as in love with you as I am,” it was obvious that the personal touch that is the hallmark of the band would be lost.


No amount of fog and LED lights could make up for that, although The xx brought an impressive display (my photographer’s shots are as interesting as, if not more than, the show itself.


As the set unfolded with songs that I know nearly note for note -- new ones like “Fiction” and old ones like “Crystalised” -- I couldn’t help but feel supremely bored. Maybe it was because I was pretty far back from the stage (by the the sound engineer), but, most likely, because this is not music for such a large venue.


Looking around to see how my friends and the crowd responded, I noted that folks were trying (really hard) to enjoy it so they felt like they were getting their money’s worth -- awkward hipster dancing, timid head nods and the like.


The trio precisely articulated the reverbed swells and percussion soaked in delay, an overall impressive sound, to a tee, but failed to unfold their two-album catalog with any gusto in making it feel like a live show -- one where art was being created before you, where you were witnessing a one-of-a-kind spectacle; the beauty of seeing a live show.


Honestly, I was so bored that I lost track of about four songs about 30 minutes into the set because I was checking my phone for updates on the second presidential debate. After re-engaging, I stuck around for a decent trio of songs: “Swept Away,” followed by classic The xx songs “Shelter” and “VCR.” Then, I left. I went home and put on the self-titled debut to listen contentedly to a few songs that I hadn’t heard -- on my headphones.


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