I’m sure many fans (including myself) at The Fillmore on Wednesday night were a little bit apprehensive about seeing The xx for the first time. Not to doubt the work of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie xx, but the trio’s dreamy, reflective pop is often my go-to choice for quiet moments and times of solitude. Not necessarily a shared experience with 2,000 plus people. However, the London band showcased stage presence and showmanship in a cohesive and engaging manner that demanded a larger audience.
Co-headliners Grizzly Bear kicked off the night and were admirably enthused about being back in Detroit after a 6 year absence. My interest often drifted through their set of art rock (as does with some of their albums), but they certainly could have played the role of headliner. Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen handled most of the vocal duties, while Chris Taylor chimed in when he wasn’t busy playing bass and various woodwind instruments. “Knife”, “While You Wait For Others” and “Two Weeks” garnered the biggest applause, but “Sun In Your Eyes” charmed with diverse instrumentation as Rossen bellowed over twinkling keys.
I wasn’t aware The xx hadn’t been to Detroit in their 4 year existence until Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear announced it. Detroit showed what the band had been missing with a raucous response whenever a pause happened, but I didn’t catch many fellow fans talking over the performers. That might have been because the sequencing of the night didn’t give them much option to sit idly by. Jamie xx & the crew kept the tempo constant with EDM-enhanced versions of tracks from their debut and Coexist, especially “Far Nearer” and “Shelter”. Jamie xx wordlessly glided from sampler to steel drum to turntable with slight head nods, while Romy cooed hushed vocals to fan favorites like “VCR” and “Crystalised”. Oliver often swayed around the historic stage with a slight grin and rapid flicks of the bass guitar. His heavy, throaty vocals fill headphones with ease, but truly engulfed The Fillmore in massive fashion.
Despite a sparse set up with Romy and Oliver wielding guitar and bass, Jamie xx on an elevated stage and a black curtain backdrop, the lighting made the evening seem even more grand. I’d been given notice about the light show (thanks Tom), but severely estimated how profound and thought out this element was. At times, the display almost seemed like a fourth member of the band as a spectral “X” haloed above the band. The encore appropriately kicked off with “Intro” before “Angels” brought the house down as a glowing hue cascaded Romy’s paced vocals.
Based on both acts’ lauding of The Fillmore and response to fans’ adoration, I think we’ll be seeing The xx and Grizzly Bear back in Detroit soon.
Summary Video via Marilyn Smith