The xx Sell Out… In the Good Way

The xx
Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
04/08/2010

I am all kinds of caught up in the hype The xx has achieved thus far. I mean, selling out TWO shows at the same venue in one night? On their first headlining tour?AND they will be back on April 19th with Hot Chip? The xx have found a recipe for success. Each song evokes distant emotions which are subtly brought back to life on stage. Their live set varies in slight ways, however it was pretty much like listening to the album over Lincoln Hall’s soundsystem.

Random fact: What do bands Hot Chip, Burial, Four Tet and The xx have in common? They are all alumni of the Elliot School in London.

More about The xx’s simple stylings and photos after the jump

I don’t understand it. I love it, but I don’t understand it. People are going nine kinds of crazy for Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga (read: death of good music). Those acts have been run through a pop blender, adding everything from Auto-tune to the most fake sounding synthesizer you can imagine. The xx is a lone reminder that a band does not need Timberland-like tracks or “Passion Pit” over processing to create great music. It is simple music with complex meaning, taking simple melodies and making them velvety smooth. The xx uses basic guitar phrases and re-uses them in the same song without shame. I was surprised to learn The xx opts for electronic drums (via band member Jamie Smith) instead of the typical drums and cymbals of most modern indie rock bands (of which they are far from). And somehow, the near-infinite repetition between band mates Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim in “Infinity” (Give it up / I can’t give it up) just works.

The set list:
x Intro (Surprise!)
x Crystalised
x Islands
x Fantasy
x Shelter
x Vcr
x Cover of Do You Mind?
x Basic Space
x Night Time
x Infinity

Both sets were the exact same, but I sure did not mind seeing them twice in one day. In fact, I’m sure it will be the same set when The xx opens for Hot Chip on April 19. Still, there was a type of silent energy brewing in each person in attendance. Some mystery energy ready to burst in a shuffle-like dance one moment and the next completely content and focused on The xx on stage. Knowingly happy no matter what song The xx would play next. Some people knew every word, often turning to their BFF’s in moments of forgetting lyrics. A sea of iPhones tried to capture the trio on stage in between blinding flashes of light or dimly lit guitar interludes. Even the few photographers who snagged tickets had trouble timing the random, semi-synced light show The xx also featured in the packed venue.

One of the crazier things to think about is their debut album was only released last August. Nearly every amount of touring they have done since the release of seemingly self-titled xx has been sold out. Over half of their tracks have been featured in commercials and television series like Gossip Girl or Grey’s Anatomy. The band is in high demand, and I am still having trouble figuring out exactly why. Maybe I can find the answers before their next show with Hot Chip at the Riviera Theatre. Tickets are officially sold out, yet you can always scour Craigslist to find a good deal, especially the day of the show. The xx is definitely not going to disappoint, even as an opener.

More photos to come real soon!!

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