The xx, the black-clad trio from London who put out 2010's best debut album (at least according to me), are not yet 21 years old, which seems impossible. They're young enough that they still have an affinity for all-ages
matinees, and popular enough that after selling out their night show at the Paradise, they added a dinner show for the kids, and sold that one out too. Since the 10 pm show had
been sold out for months, we went early, even though it just seemed wrong to see them at the ungodly early hour of 7:30 -- a radio programmer I know instructs his DJs never to play "Crystallized" before sundown.
PHOTOS: the xx, April 2 at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston
Their third member, tk, is fascinatig to watch. He's responsible for operating the drum machine -- usually drudgework, except that he takes the unlikely approach od hitting every kick, snare and cymbal hit with his fingers, instead of just programming them in advance. It's very strange to watch -- in terms of high stakes thrills, it's equivalent to watching someone type 100 words a minute with their thumbs -- but it has utility. Where groups like La Roux (who i love) are chained to their click tracks, the xx are free to do all the things that bands with drmers do, like speed up, slow down, and fuck up in the middle.The easiest way for a band to signify excitement in a live setting is to play their songs faster. The xx, minimalist by design, created their drama by playing just a breath slower -- a simple gesture which in practice feels as if it has doubled the sensual gravity of their music, hightening their natural tk for ...At one point they unleashed a three-minute interlude of bowel- softening bass frequencies -- not just loud but physically intrusive. Industrial bands used to fuck with this kind of thing to punish their audiences, but in the xx's hands, it came off (as my date put it) like light s&m: like a really hard pinch of the nipples before a long, slow screw. When the bass lifted suddenly, it was for the bright, melancholy, and suddenly more beatiful opening chord of tjtk ...Carly Carioli + Web Editor + Boston Phoenix, WFNX, Stuff Magazine +126 Brookline Ave + Boston MA 02215 + firstname.lastname@example.org + 617.859.3379