A while ago, I was lying in bed, just enjoying the lazy afternoon with The XX playing in the background. I remembered the scorching weather, the sweat on my skin and the smooth synth beats – that moment felt like it only just happened yesterday.
I said to myself that I enjoyed how the music came together; at times it was quiet, then sporadic and desolate. I predicted that, The XX, alongside another fave new band of mine, White Lies, would make it big in 2010. I also swore that I’d attend their concert if they ever stop near our shores.
I was right.
When rumours were swirling about The XX opening for Florence & The Machine, I squealed and the second the ticketing counters opened, I didn’t think twice about getting the floored seats near the stage.
Fast forward to the concert, I was catching up with Mike and the good ol’ Universal folks at Fairmont Hotel, where we’d meet Florence at an intimate session. I was hoping to catch up with The XX but they were nowhere to be seen, sadly.
Florence was such a doll. She had the cutest smile and her bright red hair was pleated in plaids. She was warm and giggled when I said I’d like to have my hair braided up like hers.
Still no sign of The XX.
It was eight when I finally walked into Esplanade and the second I heard the familiar beats of ‘Intro’ blaring from the speakers, I ran up the stairs in pitch darkness. I immediately pulled out my X6 and went straight to the stage. Soon, everyone else followed suit.
For those who have been diligently playing their record on repeat, you’d know the words to their songs and the sonic beats Jamie Smith bangs on the drum machine. Then there’s Oliver’s and Romy’s hush-hush purring vocals soaring through the mic, scattering syllables and alphabets to our delight.
It has begun.
Haunting, piercing, mellow – the blue rays that wrapped around the three-member band transported me back to the intimate and sadness of a time lost. I shut my eyes and sang to songs like ‘Fantasy’, ‘Shelter’, ‘VCR’, ‘Crystallised’ and more. If you ask me, the trio may have had little crowd connection – Oliver was given the task to mouth a couple ‘thank yous’ and occasionally stared at his feet (shoegazing, mates, Mike said) but I couldn’t help but realise how he was so much into the music. With black their main dress theme, Oliver kept swinging his hips in tight ¾ pants and layered necklace – it was quite a enthralling sight. Romy was quiet but her soothing vocals kept the crowd wanting more; it was as if she was reading passages from a love journal.
The mood was intense and personal.
I especially liked the throbbing bass of ‘Fantasy’ which shook the stage and balconies. Then there’s Oliver banging on the drums which upped the beats further. Sure the band sounds like their debut album, fresh and different as it sounds, I thought it wasn’t monotonous at all and the 45-minutes set felt too short. I was even adamant that they should extend their set to one hour max and that Florence should cut down hers by 30 minutes.
Ah, Florence. She was squealing like a banshee and truthfully, I could only tolerate her within 30 minutes. I liked ‘Dog Days Are Over’, ‘Hurricane Drunk’, ‘Cosmic love’ – which she sang and it was pure bliss to watch her flap her witchy outfit and prancing around in her sparkly underwear. But after that I got tired and sat down. Presence-wise, Florence was a doll; she captivated the audience with her cutesy stance of Polaroid moments: taking pictures of crowd and herself, headbanging to her own songs and bending over like she was practising some very important yoga moves. I was told that Florence’s set could only be made up of her and Chris, the drummer, and it would just be equally mesmerising like that.
By the time it was over, I felt like I was overcome with much heavy-laden emotions. It was like a huge knot inside of me that continued burrowing its way through. I was blown away by The XX. It’ll be interesting to see what their next record would offer: more dance-y synth beats, perhaps? Once a bedroom band that’s now touring around the world, The XX makes for niche music that is specially crafted with adulation and rapture. I’ll never forget this moment in time.
For more reviews: