Last night Drew and I drove down to Columbus to see the xx and jj at the Wexner Center for the Arts. I never really planned on being negative on this blog, I mean, if I listen to something and don’t like it, why on earth would I waste time writing about it? BUT, I’m trying to make an effort to write about the majority of the concerts I go to (mainly so that I don’t forget I’ve been there.)
So anyway, Drew and I bought our tickets for this show way back. I think the xx was still riding the hype of being on some “Best Albums of the Year” lists & jj hadn’t gotten that awful review for jj no 3 on Pitchfork (not that that matters, I mean, who cares what Pitchfork thinks? But still, it was harsh.) I had never really listened to either band, but Drew was interested in going & I was feeling a little more adventurous in terms of concert attendance, so we got tickets. Later on, I developed an affinity for jj’s Human League-ier sounding tunes, as noted here & started to look forward to the show.
jj’s set started out with Elin playing two songs (one of them was “Are You Still in Vallda?”) on the acoustic guitar with no accompaniment. It was a sweet way to start out the set and it made me think that maybe some of the recent live reviews I’d read about jj were, perhaps, unnecessarily harsh, but then it was all downhill from there. I don’t really know what to say — I guess, watching jj perform was a lot like watching someone do karaoke. The entire set was, more or less, Elin singing along with the album. For the majority of the songs there was no one else on stage with her — unless you count the projected images of running caribou and Elin rolling joints. It was just kind of a bummer. Jaokim came out with a guitar for a couple of songs and sort of mimed playing it — then he went and sat on the far end of the stage behind some speakers for the rest of the set. I don’t know, the whole thing was just weird and kind of depressing. Elin’s voice was lovely and I still like their music, but can’t imagine ever wanting to see them live again. (Side note: when I initially wrote about jj, I mentioned my main affinity for them being that they reminded me of the Human League — imagine my surprise and delight when the between set music was extended dance mixes of songs from the Human League’s album, Dare.)
Compared to jj, the xx was tremendous! They were dynamic and very together and also extra, extra polite and friendly, which is something I really appreciate in a band’s stage presence. Unfortunately, their music just really wasn’t my thing. While watching them I found myself thinking, “The xx would play a really, REALLY good set at the Bronze,” and then I thought, “How unusual that I should think that? I just saw a band and thought that.” I mean, I’ve probably only seen a few Bronze-esque bands in my lifetime. How strange to see two within a week of each other? So, this morning I’m doing some googling and (surprise!) it turns out that the Big Pink and the xx actually toured together. A Bronze Band Roadshow. Anyway, while technically proficient, the xx just didn’t do it for me. The crowd was super into it though — lots of girls with digital cameras singing along to every song.
I was extremely surprised when Drew tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted to leave before the band came out for their encore. Drew NEVER does that. He STILL complains about shows that he had to leave early in high school. In the years that we’ve been going to shows together, we’ve only ever left one show early prior to last night. (Side note: last night Drew kept saying how he had no clue the xx was so popular and that the crowd they attracted was very different from what he expected, which led me to say, “I bet one of their songs was used on a tv show that’s popular with college girls.” Drew said he didn’t think so, but a quick perusal of the xx’s WikiPedia page says they had a song used on Grey’s Anatomy, so, you know, there’s that.)
So yeah, it was just kind of a weird night out. But tonight we’re going to see Japandroids and tomorrow we’re going to see Girls and Dum Dum Girls, all of which will probably be much more our speed.