Off Beat Music Guide

Concert Review: The xx March 31, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music — bethstephenson84 @ 12:20 pm
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Where: The Cat’s Cradle- Carrboro, NC

When: March 25, 2010

If you will remember, The xx did not make it onto my Best of 2009 list. I can hear the cries of “blasphemy” even as I type! I know, I know, how could I? The thing is (and I hate excuses), I didn’t even pick up the album until the middle of December (it was released in August) and by that point I had pretty much solidified my list.  I have carried some serious guilt over this issue. And just for my peace of mind, I need to state right here and now that if I were to redo that list, this band would easily make it into the Top 5.

What I like about The xx and this concert is that they are peerless. I haven’t heard or seen anything quite like them out there. They claim their influences are R&B acts like Genuine and Beyonce, but I am not able to draw those parallels when I listen to the album. What I can say is that both the album and the show are undeniably sexy. It’s horribly cliché, I know, but it’s the only word that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe this band.

This concert opened with Nosaj Thing, an electronic music artist hailing from Cali. It was an interesting choice for an opening act because he was pretty much a DJ remixing other popular music. I like his style though and he got the crowd pretty rowdy in his 30 minute set.

Nosaj Thing

Then came jj. I don’t really have a lot to say about their set because I am afraid what I do have to say would detour you from listening to their albums.; and what I really want you to do is listen to their albums, because the music is simply breathtaking. It’s just the artists that are crazy. Here’s an article I read from Paste Magazine’s Rachael Maddux about her experience with jj at SXSW and this  sums up my experience pretty well.


While we were still scratching our heads over the whole “jj debacle”, The xx, silently and modestly took the stage. (They are painfully shy off stage and in interviews.)  The crowd was in a state of pandemonium when the trio, all dressed in head to toe black, slid on their instruments as a giant white sheet fell to the ground behind them revealing a giant solid black X. It only took the first few notes of “Intro” to make us all completely forget about what a mess the previous band had been. It was a sold out show and we were packed in every nook and cranny of the room, but no one was standing still.

The live show was exactly like listening to the album. It was moody and dark with a theatrical flair but always, always, it was sexy. And then there’s Oliver Sim’s voice. And maybe it’s just because I have the most confounded, ridiculously high school type crush on him, but every time he opened his mouth I felt a fainting fit coming. Often when listening to The xx, I get the feeling I am intruding on a private conversation between Sim and guitarist/singer Romy Madley Croft. The way they croon to one another feels very personal even though they remain tight lipped about what the songs mean or who they were written for.

I’ve been to many concerts in my short 25 years, and after many of them I have left feeling sad that it had to end. But I have never felt that feeling as strongly as when this concert ended. I could have stayed 5 or 6 more hours and still have been begging for more. This band’s youth and uniqueness leave me desperately waiting for a new album.  Everything sort of seems boring in comparison. Unfortunately, it looks like I will be waiting a while. The band has no plans to even start writing until the tour is over. Let the sulking begin…

Here are some videos from the show. Infinity is probably my favorite song on the album and they killed it live, so make sure to check that one out. If you’d like to check out all of my videos, you can head over to my YouTube page for more.




Update and Overload March 24, 2010

Filed under: Music,Music News — bethstephenson84 @ 12:15 pm
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It has been an eternity and a half since I have posted and I have a lot to catch up on. I would blame this extended absence solely on my real life job, but in all honesty it’s been fun things like the Oscars, trips to Cabo, quality time with sweet friends etc. that monopolized my time…in a good way.

I love the first part of the year in the music world because it’s faced paced. While artists are shoveling out new music each week, the constant anticipation of what albums are on the horizon is always palpable in articles and interviews. It really keeps me on my toes!

So, where to start?

She & Him released Volume 2 this week and much to my relief, it is just as sugary sweet as Volume 1. It’s warm and catchy and just plan adorable. Like puppies adorable.   I would categorize this as the perfect windows-down-sun-shining-toe tapping kind of album.

Laura Marling released the video for the third track “Rambling Man” from her album I Speak Because I Can, due stateside April 6th. It’s a much darker (literally and figuratively) Laura than 2008’s Alas I Cannot Swim. She looks and sounds much more mature in this video and you can’t help but hear the similarities to Joni Mitchell in this single. I’m a Laura Marling fan and I like the way her music is evolving so you can bet I will be purchasing this album in a couple of weeks!

We are getting so close to hearing actual tracks from the new Dead Weather album Sea of Cowards. The video for the first single “Die By the Drop” was leaked online yesterday for like half a second before it was snatched off by cruel, cruel people who are determined to make us all suffer.  The buzz I’m hearing is that the album is pretty much a continuation of Horehound, which can only mean it’s gonna be bad ass.

And speaking of Jack White, it was announced this week that he indeed recorded an album with none other than Jay-Z. I am scared to get my hopes up, but there’s just no stopping it…I predict amazingness.

The ever eccentric Girls is set to release an EP some time this year (vague enough for ya?). While a full LP won’t be out until next year at the earliest, we should expect this EP to be just as strange and wonderful as Album.  Owens told Drowned in Sound that he wrote seventy songs and narrowed it down to 6 for this EP. Seventy songs? What’s the hold up on the LP, then? Anywho, Owens talked about one of the songs: “It’s called ‘Carolina’ – there’s a version of it on the internet – and it hasn’t really been done justice yet. It’s written about this girl who was ‘Miss Teen South Carolina’…, and they asked her a question and she said something silly about wanting to teach people in Iraq how to read, and I thought to myself“Did she really just say that?” All I have to say to that is “awesome.”

On a personal note, I am very excited about all my upcoming concerts. Here’s what I have lined up for the Spring, thus far: the XX, Japandroids, Vampire Weekend, Beach House w/ Washed Out, OK Go, Blitzen Trapper and Phoenix. As usual, I’ll keep you posted with video and pics after each show.