Concert Review: The xx @ 9:30 Club (7/26/18)

The xx
The xx (Photo Credit: Alasdair McLellan)

Wow, The xx decided it was a good idea to bring the 9:30 Club house down!

Even snubbing the start time by 20 minutes, all was l forgiven as the three members of The xx graced DC with wave after wave of face rippling and exhilarating music on Thursday, July 26.

Thursday was night two of their three night residency at the 9:30 Club (that’s as impressive as it is rare). All three shows sold out. Probably due to the anticipation of not having played at the 9:30 Club since 2010 after their first album, xx, erupted onto the music world. DC wasn’t left out completely, as Merriweather Post Pavilion hosted a few of their shows in between. This multi-night residency was not their first however, as they did an incredible seven nights at the O2 Brixton Academy in 2017.

They have been touring for two years for their third album, I See You, and these DC shows were the penultimate for this tour. They can rest now, because they earned it.

The xx are an indie pop/electronic band from London with Romy Madley Croft sharing vocal duties and rocking the guitar; Oliver Sim also on vocals and the bass; and Jamie Smith (or Jamie xx) on beats. Jamie’s set-up was out-of-this-world, something you might jack into to access The Matrix, with five different stations for whatever assortment of production and beat dropping was desired. Oliver’s yellow shirt was so loud, it certainly would have attracted Curious George had he been able to acquire a ticket. Romy was moved to dance to the rhythms quite beyond the levels reached by the energetic revelers on the floor.

The hugely sold out 9:30 Club crowd could not have been happier when the trio kicked off the evening with “Dangerous” from I See You. This album is a little ‘more’ than their first two spare and minimalist albums, in terms of more sampling, a more up tempo beat and more electronic sounds. Other songs from the album like “A Violent Noise” and “Oh Hold” were exceptional musical moments that transfixed the crowd. Even when Romy made a mistake during “A Violent Noise” and they had to pause to get back on track, smiling wryly, the crowd still looked on as if they were the bee’s knees (presumably).

Their whole demeanor and stage presence was one of being humbled by the crowd’s reaction, but still not at all surprised by it either. On at least two occasions, the crowd just would not stop cheering, and they paused while Oliver patiently smiled and soaked it in.

The second song of the night was “Islands”, and set the tone of excited anticipation. ‘I am yours now, so now I don’t ever have to leave.’

A little later they played “Sunset”, one of my personal favourites (British spelling alert), where the opening melody brought chills.

In all they performed 17 songs, six from I See You. The glorious evening ended with “Intro” and the slowly melodic “Angels”. “Intro” is my actual favourite song by them, and as the haunting beats and sounds rocketed around the club, turning our faces into a de facto sounding board, you knew something was right in the world. At least for a moment. The world cheered in adoration and The xx deserved it.

We can assume that they’ll take a break from touring for a bit, but make sure you do everything in your power to go to their next show in DC. Even if you have to wait another eight years.

Setlist
Dangerous
Islands
Say Something Loving
Crystalised
Sunset
Reunion
A Violent Noise
I Dare You
Performance
Infinity
VCR
Fiction
Shelter
Loud Places (Jaime xx cover)
Oh Hold
Intro
Angels

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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