Experimentation at the Exit

Xiu Xiu

At The Hard to Find Showspace, Wednesday, November 8.

Reviewed by Nicole de Ayora

Upon arriving at The Hard to Find Showspace — located at an unlit church at the darker end of Hollister Avenue — a line of silhouettes has already formed around the edges of the parking lot that Wednesday night. Eager to see Xiu Xiu’s melancholy in the making, the flock of hipsters had migrated to The Space for the venue’s final show ever (or so they say).

After a short opening act by Grouper, Dirty Projectors played a dynamite set that proved these opening bands are all into taking risks but share little else in common. In keeping with this theory was the solo percussionist of Cong for Brums, who — with only drums and a xylophone — showed that the new trend of automatic music through synthesizers is unnecessary and that pop music can still be made manually.

As the night wore on and the number of unsmoked cigarettes dwindled, three-member band Xiu Xiu took the stage. The band is known for its sudden transitions from typical rock ’n’ roll to harsh-sounding, uncomfortable percussion and sound effects, with lead singer Jamie Stewart as the mad scientist behind the over-the-top dramatics. In keeping with this vibe, Stewart’s morose lyrics kept forcing the people in the audience to take on each emotion with him — be it about suicide, death, or AIDS — even if they’d rather not.

The band played all the crowd’s favorites, including “Buzzsaw,” the latest single from the band’s recent album The Air Force. Lyrically a departure from previous albums, this song lightened the mood of the set with the unforgettable line “Your acne is like a pearl / mine I swear is like a brimstone.”

For Josh Eymann and those involved in running The Hard to Find, it was a finale show three years in the making. For those less in the know, it was just another great concert. Either way you slice it, it was an electric night of experimental indie at a reasonable price. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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