Show Review: The xx @ ACL Live (2/11)

When The XX announced their Austin show, tickets were virtually gone within minutes, forcing the band to add another show immediately.  Such is the demand and the hype associated with the British group after the release of their album, Coexist.  They brought friends Austra to town with them, giving listeners a glimpse at the operatic IDM realm. 

Read on for some thoughts on the evening and pics.

I was really impressed with Austra‘s opening set.  Given a short amount of time, as all opening acts are afforded, they made the most of it behind the strength of Katie Stelmanis’ vocals.  From the moment she took to the stage in the darkened room, she owned every instant.  At times, she dabbled on her keyboard, but her more exhilerating role came as she stalked the stage, letting her voice sore high into the rafters.  The rest of the band was a little less energetic, but they did their part, filling in the space behind such an operatic voice.  They closed the set with “Lose It,” leaving me with a very satisfied taste in my mouth.  Just get that bass player some dancing shoes.

I was a bit concerned for The xx set, knowing they had some struggles their first run through Austin, which was due to inexperience if you’re asking my opinion.  But, opening with “Angels” we were all assured that the group would be bringing a more refined sound to ACL Live. Personally, I think opening with this track celebrates the band’s moves on Coexist to deal more with the negative space lurking behind their songs, rather than utilizing the electronics of IDM to create the scope of their tunes as they did on their self-titled.  It made the night more delicate, musically speaking, which I think speaks to the band’s growth as musicians and showmen.

Sure, when “VCR” came up near the end of the night, people were ecstatic, but I’m sure that didn’t phase the group, as they operated carefully through their set the entire night.  Romy seems to have adujusted to the limelight, and Oliver definitely had his stage presence down, though his swaying move back and forth with bass in hand grew a little tiresome. And yes, the lights were pretty rad, though I don’t think that should really have an impact on the final standing.  Leaving the venue, I can say that I was presently surprised by the night.  The band played well together (though I’d personally appreciate a little more interaction between Romy and Oliver); the lights added an extra bit of influence on the sound, which in and of itself was solid throughout the night.  I wasn’t blown away by any means, but I also don’t regret being in attendance.

Photo Guy Notes: “The Beat and the Pulse” from Austra is my jam. “Fiction”, where that dude takes the lead, best song on the night for me, but whatevs. More pics/prints at the photo site


  • I’ve seen them before and it was exactly like watching statues at a park. If you’re expecting a “show” you’ll be disappointed. Conversely their live sound is pretty damn incredible and fairly true to their records. I feel it’s best, when I see them, to grab a seat, sip my drink, close my eyes and let myself get lost in my own mind. A show it is not, but an experience it is. Thanks and no offense to the band, they just aren’t showmen in any way. I still buy the records and love the band, I’m just level-setting for the masses.

    …and That’s What’s Up

  • @that’s what’s up. You’re wrong. Although their music doesn’t allow for brisk runs with guitar or bass in hand from on side of the stage to the other they put on a great set considering.

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