The Fillmore Miami Beach
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Better Than: Any other XX show up to this point, probably.
The XX just played their 100th show earlier this week. But until about 13 hours ago, the Brit indie-pop crew had never been to Miami. It's a difficult market, and for a lot of touring cool-kid bands, it just doesn't seem cost effective.
But last night's sold-out show not only blew away the captive audience, it shocked the band itself. So much so that they offered up a formal apology for taking so long to get to what is apparently the greatest market for the XX in the world.
It was an early show by city standards, and the group hit the stage at about 9:45 p.m. A giant white screen stood between the crowd and the band, upon which two colorful blurs emerged and then were broken apart into some even more abstract, watery design.
Then the first chords of "Angels" came ringing through the air.
Opening with the biggest hit from their latest album might have been risky, but it became immediately apparent that everyone in this audience was more than just a one or two song kind of fan. People screamed like it was some kind of pop anthem, singing along loudly to every down-tempo moment.
The screen came up and nothing stood between the band and their adoring fans but stage lights. They quietly began the next song, "Heart Skipped a Beat" from their first album, and the place erupted again. This time, Oliver and Romy sang out under demure spotlights in beautiful duet. Meanwhile, Jamie stayed in the back booth working out the beats like a silent pimp.
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"This is a special day," Oliver said after the song finished. "This is our first time in Miami. Thank you for being with us today."
They played "Fiction," a really raw and personal song off Coexist, and as we watched them, it became obvious that though the performance was personal and introspective, the XX are full on rock stars. They were hamming it up on stage as much as their dark and minimal sound could allow.
Throughout the night, Oliver and Romy worked the stage, walking from end to end, coming up to the crowd in the middle, playing that dueling-guitars game while turned to each other. And man oh man do they know how to milk it when it's good.
Like when they played "Crystalized." Those clever bastards stretched that song out good and long, holding off on their popular sighs and words until after the audience sang it first. It was like being teased by some evil lover you wish you didn't care so much about, but you just keep on playing the fool.
"It really is a pleasure to be here," Romy said softly into the mic. "We worked out a special version of this song for this tour."
They went into "Chained," and then a special dedicated rendition of "Reunion" where they gave up the stage to Jamie for a moment, so he could kick out the jams. He started in on a sick steel drum line, the spotlight hanging on his head, and lights began to flash from behind them. The members of the group seemed to disappear into the darkness, dressed in all black as they were. It was all the right kinds of moody.
In the lull between songs, the crowd continued to roar. Someone shouted "I love you" above it, then the blue mood lighting struck everyone to attention as they went into "Night Time." Smoke came filtering through their bodies slowly off the stage, and the crowd clapped along with their hands in the air.
Pandemonium again when the jangly keys of "VCR" piped through, and even more when they followed it with "Islands." We got a special treat with "Try," a song they said they'd "never ever played live before."
"We're very excited, but we're very nervous," he said, but there was no reason to be. This was a room full of the biggest XX fans in the world, and we ate up every sad and sexy minute of it.
"Infinity" made all the couples stand closer, the song punctuated with the subtle explosion of lights. Oliver and Romy leaned into their guitars with their whole bodies, singing along like it hurt before walking off stage, but only just for a moment.
They came back with "Intro" then moved into "Tides." They thanked the audience and the noise only got louder. They looked at each other, humbled by the massive outpouring of adoration. Then Oliver took to the microphone.
"Thank you so much Miami. We really didn't know," he said, stopped midway by the shouting. "We'd like to make a formal apology for taking our damn time in coming here. This is the best show."
"Really, a massive, massive thank you," Romy chimed in. "This is more than we ever could have expected." Then "Stars" filled the screen behind them as they played their last song of the night, milking it once again for every last crowd-pleasing drop.
When it was all said and done, the three came to the front of the stage and bowed in appreciation. You could tell they were still shocked by the insanity from the crowd, and they lingered just a while longer than usual before heading off, the house lights coming back on behind them.
They only played for about an hour, though they could have played forever and no one would have given any mind. But as we all filed out and into the street, at least we knew that, this time, the lover wanted us as much as we had wanted them.
Personal Bias: This was like, everything my inner goth kid could have hoped it would be. And I never would have guessed the XX were so beloved by so many people, but it was really pretty much amazing.
The Crowd: Everyone in town who knows good music when they hear it, and honestly, with tickets on stubhub going for more than $200, it could have been double the amount of XX fans in there.
"Heart Skipped a Beat"
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