The XX, Glasser
Tiffany Daniels 10/03/2010
The Kazimier is packed. The quantity of people in the medium sized venue overloads to a proportion that I've never experienced before - from festive and celebratory club nights to one off carnivals, nothing has attracted this amount of people to the independent show room in the past. Such is the extent, you have to ask whether The Kaz has exceeded its legal limit; fans flow over the balconies and up stairs, desperate to catch a glimpse of the stage. From the onset, it seems unlikely that everyone will enjoy a standard view, let alone a full one.
Suspicions are confirmed as support act Glasser begin - the Los Angeles based Cameron Mesirow is accompanied by a backing band consisting of Fever Ray producers Subliminal Kid and Van Rivers. All three edge dangerously close to the foot of the stage, crammed in between two extraordinarily large amps. I'm lucky enough to occupy close quarters and, between two heads, I can see all three artists from start to finish. This is a blessing, because what Glasser lack in musical accomplishment, they make up in visual art and raw energy. Leaping and bounding between tracks, Subliminal Kid and Rivers adopt a near choreographed dance routine that sees them sway and hop in time to the brash and tropical melody. Mesirow's vocals are not unique, but they pound their way into the hearts of those watching and rely on the same strong qualities as contemporary acts like The Knife and New Young Pony Club. Parts of the set echo Paul Simon in temperament and others an agitated monkey, particularly on current single “Apply”. It's interesting, to say the least, but ultimately entertaining and accomplished.
My review of Glasser would have been more enthusiastic, if they were the first support act, as I assumed. As the night progresses, it quickly becomes clear that they are in fact a replacement for original support These New Puritans; something very few realise and, when it dawns upon them, very few are happy about. The promoter may have been 'dropped in it' in favour of a Spanish gig, but Glasser are hardly an adequate replacement.
Undeterred, the night sidles on, with The XX taking to the stage quarter of an hour earlier than planned. Their presence is well received and if it weren't for the sardine like quality the room has taken on within the past hour, fans would undoubtedly crowd forward. As it is, some are forced to go back, and up. I'm one of said fans, literally in the rafters, on tiptoes in an attempt to see something, anything.
The trio are technically perfect and each song plays as though it's straight from the stereo - “VCR” and “Islands” stir up a concoction of feelings and both band and audience thrive on the sensation. However, they lack is gusto; in such an environment something is needed to add to their live performance beyond dense and heavy atmosphere. They aren't uncharismatic, but none of their songs succeed in taking flight; the room demands an upbeat lift, and for the majority of the gig The XX fail to provide.
In fairness, the most damning factor is the venue - something entirely out of The XX's hands. It's charming and loved locally, but for a sound so reliant on basement inspired din and doom, it's simply too unconventional. The sound engineer, whomever that may be, has failed to appreciate the many twists, corners and cubby-holes available to determined feet and the amps are badly placed - at least 30% more of the audience could have seen the performers if they were dragged a few meters back, or downsized. The lesson to be learnt is, if you intend to see The XX live, make sure it's at a suitable venue. Otherwise, all will be lost.