the xx

Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments


While we were at The XX / Friendly Fires show last night I found myself pondering this question the entire time the xx were on stage: What the hell was I doing when I was 20 years old? If memory serves correctly, I would’ve been getting blitzed every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and trying not to fail my Greek and Roman Classics 101 course. I also went to a lot of formal dances with my boyfriend at RMC, but lord knows I wasn’t penning albums of the year or putting out the most wicked basslines heard since David Lynch scored Wild at Heart.

OK…to be fair here…If you were to ask me if the xx put on an energetic show last night the answer would be a resounding NO. The trio looked as if they’d been visited by some energy-sapping vampires the night before and the drama of having a member drop out due to exhaustion might make that theory more fact than fiction. I’d say the only limbs that moved onstage was during their last song…sort of an extended ‘Infinity’ when vocalist/bassist Jamie Smith started banging the bejesus out of a pair of cymbals to end off on. Romy Croft wins the mannequin-performer prize for moving only her fingers while strumming the guitar, though. You might think this was a shitty disappointment for us seeing as their debut album is near the top of our picks for 2009 but there was one thing that redeemed them…the music. This is an amazing album with some amazing guitar / bass work and it is something else to hear something of this caliber, live. The vocals were right on save for some wavering from Romy during Shelter. But shit, they’re 20! This is their first North American tour and comparing them to someone like say, Passion Pit, they at least delivered the goods of sounding on key even if they completely lacked showmanship.

Showmanship is what the Friendly Fires are for anyway. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that these guys are consistently entertaining, and that lead singer Ed MacFarlane’s hips are consistently limber. I thought the vocals were a little off because of his gyrating jimmy arm-movements but his enthusiasm sure as hell was infectious. Their handsome bearded guitarist also got into the act, jumping on a speaker trying to drum up clapping and such..and you know what? It worked. It always does. You can’t go to see these guys and NOT holler. They also went through the effort of mixing up their live act with some saxophone accompaniment..when they were at Lee’s Palace in the spring it was more of a conga-ish feeling. Also, they played Kiss of Life, which what Ricky was waiting for.

Since these guys have about an album a piece I’m not going to bother going through their setlists (but post them here if you have them). One thing I would like to say though, is that if you’re going to pay to go to a show and bother to stand close to the stage…STOP FUCKING TALKING. For the love of god, stand near the back if all you want to do is dis the opener. No one wants to hear it and at risk of sounding like a school marm, it’s just plain disrespectful.

That is all.

Concert Review: You Say Party! We Say Die!, Phoenix, November 20

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 2 Comments


Toronto – I don’t really listen to enough Canadian music. This I know to be true. This is possibly because I don’t listen to much CBC Radio 3. Anyways, Friday night was a big night for Canadian music. Over at Lee’s Palace, there was the Rural Alberta Advantage, Bahamas and Fox Jaws show (you can read a review here). While over on the East side of the city, Steamwhistle was presenting their very own Canadian night at the Phoenix, featuring Little Girls, Think About Life and You Say Party! We Say Die!.

I’m one of those weird people who really just like to go to the show to see the main event (and not the intercontinental matches). I absolutely hate waiting in between sets, probably because it means it would mean that I have to go buy a beer or something, and I’m trying to cut back on my drinking. Correction. I am trying to cut back on paying for drinks. So it is with this thought process that I decided to show up to the Phoenix at around 11:45 pm (luckily, Musebox had facebooked me earlier and given me set times. Props for that).

Upon arriving at the Phoenix, I see Lauren of No Shame fame, and she says “You just missed Think About Life” in such a tone it made me think that I missed the resurrection of Christ or something. I then promptly told Patricia about the band that just played and got scolded for not bringing her to the show earlier to see them. Bottom line is, I think “Think About Life” is supposed to be a pretty good band and I should probably check them out. I always get them mixed up with the band “Still Life Still“, but then again, I get You Say Party! We Say Die! mixed up with Los Campesinos because Los Campesinos have a song called “You! Me! Dancing!”. Basically, I’m an idiot.

Onto the show. The first thing I noticed about the set was that there were four light fixtures on the ground labled “X”. You can see it in my awesome concert photo I took above (i’ve decided to take crappy concert photos to counteract all the awesome photos the other people on this blog takes – to you know, keep it real). Anyways, upon seeing the X’s, I was immediately reminded of the band The XX, one of my favorite of the year. Then I started thinking about the Friendly Fires/The XX show next week. Mmmm good. It was kind of crappy, since for the entire show, whenever I thought about those lights, I thought about another band. Not a good start.

YSP!WSD! came out slightly after midnight, and well, you can’t help by notice singer Becky Ninkovic’s attire. I would say, if there was a huge fire at a 1980s aerobics class, and a phoenix (get the pun haha) rose out from the flames, it would roughly resemble Becky. Starting off the show with There is XXXX (within my heart) (off new album XXXX), the band kept a consistent dance punk sound through out the set.

We were a bit shocked at the crowd. It was only about half full (or half empty) and given the amount of hype this band had generated (there were articles about them everywhere), I had counted on more people. I guess a lot of them were at the RAA show at Lees. I think massively hyped Canadian bands should never play the same night, there has to be some sort of rule for this. I guess I would be generalizing a bit as the Neutral Milk Hotel worshipping RAA sound is nothing like the dancey-punk synth sounds of YSP!WSD! but you can’t help but think there are many people who like both bands. I also think having a band name as difficult to type as YSP!WSD! will put the band at quite a disadvantage in the future. Once the initial honeymoon is over, I think bloggers like myself will be too lazy or hesitant to keep on typing YSP!WSD! in an article, and as a result, just write about some band that’s easier to type. This is something to think about, future bands – name yourselves asdf or something.

I guess I should dedicate at least a paragraph of this review about the show itself. I haven’t heard much YSP!WSD! material before the show, so for me, it was all new. I like Becky’s voice, it has a Siouxie Sioux quality to it and the band seemed to be very dedicated to their punk rock sound. The lead track of their latest album (the one that they opened with) sounds really good and after listening to their album in it’s entirety this morning, I would say the album itself is really good. However, as a casual observer on Friday night, I thought the music all sounded very similar and at one point, it seemed like they all just melted together. As performers, Becky was definitely where everyone’s focus was, with the over the top outfit, frequent dancing and some call and response tactics. The rest of the band was pretty shoegazy. Patricia thought the older material sounded better, I’m not familiar enough with the band to really comment on it. The set was about an hour long, I guess the band was tired after being in Montreal Thursday night and on the queue Friday morning.

In conclusion, I would have to say I probably should have came for Think About Life, and listened to the XXXX album before hand. Despite the smallish crowd, YSP!WSD! still managed to get a lot of people moving (they probably knew the material) and that in itself is something to be said.

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