Live show review: Friendly Fires/The XX @ Neumo’s 11/27

Review by Jason Kinnard/Photos by Alex Crick

Of all the great shows that have come to Seattle this year (and there have been plenty), The XX easily eclipsed the hype of all of them before they had even played a note. This was a band we had been watching for a while (where were you people in June!) and a show we had circled on our calendars for just about as long. You might say this was right in our “sweet spot”. Of course Click & Dagger and the Viper Squad were on hand to cover all the action.

On the heels of the Friendly Fires show we covered in May for KEXP, we knew that this was going to be an epic show despite it being the first Seattle appearance for The XX. The guest list was stacked, access was tight, and Neumo’s was jam packed to Sold Out capacity. We even heard great things about their In-Store performance at Easy Street Records earlier in the afternoon. All the elements for a killer night were there (even a slightly sick, but still dancing DJ Shannon).

How did things get started? Well, I’m glad you asked. With a hell of an opening slot, Holly Miranda (signed to XL Recordings) warmed up the crowd with a gentle set of music as everyone was still filing in. Having just listened to her fantastic Black Cab Session before the show, I was anticipating hearing what she sounded like on stage. I should practice more of what I preach, but this is just further proof you shouldn’t always skip the opening band on a bill like this. This girl has talent dripping off her and a passion for her craft that you just can’t fake. For those of you who were listening, you may have just caught a shooting star. Keep up the great work Holly! (p.s. Thanks for the vinyl)

Holly Miranda

Next up were the band everyone was waiting for: The XX. Sandwiched between the opener and headliner, The XX shared the same spot as another recent band who came to town under similar conditions: White Lies. As you may remember, Seattle gave that band the folded arms treatment before going crazy for Friendly Fires, so things weren’t entirely safe for The XX quite yet. Fortunately, The XX managed to put out an amazingly good album and I had heard enough online evidence to know they would probably put on a decent show. With such a technically challenging live environment (the band plays live electronics, not sample tracks) and  having recently lost their Keyboard player, it was evident this was going to alter the sound of the band. I thought they pulled it off quite well despite being a little disappointed with their slightly different sounding rendition of their hit song “Crystalized”. To their defense, they did mention it was the first time they had really played the song as a 3-piece. It was obvious they were a young band and had some kinks to work out, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. One of the coolest parts of the night for me was seeing their reaction to the loud applause. It must be cool for a band to come all the way across the world to our remote little corner and hear an entire audience sings your songs. They got a ton of love from the Seattle crowd and sold a shitload of Merch. Did I love their performance? Yes. Did it blow me away? I’d have to say No.

The XX

For the die-hard fans who stayed for the headliner, the big treat was coming up – Friendly Fires. I did my best to urge a few of the folks up front to stick around and they were glad they did. The place did empty a little after The XX set but it was negligible. I knew from our last run-in with this band that things were about to get hopping. It takes a lot to move a Seattle crowd, but these guys did it once before and I was confident they’d do it again. You can’t resist the urge to dance to these guys, even the jaded hipsters couldn’t help but bob their heads and move around (Um, who are you looking at?). The addition of the Horn section this time around was fantastic and gave their already full sound a whole new dimension. Their studio work is fantastic, but this is a band you have to see live to appreciate. For those of you who left early, you missed out once again. The band played all the Seattle favorites from before as well as a great encore. Seattle loves some Friendly Fires and they damn well know it! Come back any time boys; except next time maybe we put you in the middle…

Friendly Fires

You can check out the whole set of pictures at the Viper Squad Flickr page.


~ by clickdagger on December 2, 2009.

One Response to “Live show review: Friendly Fires/The XX @ Neumo’s 11/27”

  1. Good review, you pretty much just described the Boston version of the same show. With the exception that The XX decided not to play Crystalized, one big let down.

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