the xx

The xx have been one of the most buzzed-about bands sprouting out of the UK as of late. With good reviews on their side, it was quite clear by the Independent crowd’s diffident demeanor that everyone was hoping they would actually live up to the hype.

Right from the get-go, a giant “xx” keyboard platform stood alone on the stage, with a gloomy, yet sultry lighting setup. Some mist and a drum machine beat brought the band in to kick off with a seductive instrumental piece. It was quite a dramatic entrance for such a new band, and they powered through selections from their sexy, out-of-nowhere album, crooning some subtle (and some not so subtle) innuendos. Feeding off each other, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s perfectly timed harmonies felt like they were letting us in on a dirty conversation between friends.

While we all enjoyed the clever lyrics, The xx seemed to be at their best when they actually weren’t singing at all. Bass-heavy rhythms and creatively placed beats and loops from the quiet unsung hero in the back, Jamie Smith, were flawlessly synced with just the right amount of give and take, dramatic silences, and powerful bridges. While Smith turned knobs, slammed on keys, and frantically switched his loops, Croft and Sim casually and effortlessly showcased their R&B obsession for everyone to see. Like their entrance, the group’s exit was similarly dramatic (although a little vain to switch on your own album during an exit?), and left everyone in the crowd wanting more. The sophistication of this relatively freshman band is something that will take even their biggest skeptics by surprise.

Friendly Fires

It was quite the shocker when Friendly Fires finally took to the stage. Popping us out of our deeply intimate and sleepy xx funk, the band opened out of the gates with “Lovesick,” and some incredibly ridiculous and amazing dance moves from front man Ed Macfarlane.

The house quickly turned into a funky dance-punk disco. The sold out Independent was a wall-to-wall sea of wiggling bodies, desperately trying to imitate Macfarlane’s spinelessly spastic moves. With the brass and rhythm sections on point, and their infamous stop-starts in full effect, Friendly Fires certainly delivered even more than was expected of them. No one in the band stopped moving, not even once, until it was all over. Their set screamed “dance now, think later,” and we couldn’t help but to happily oblige the request.