Experimentation at the Exit

Xiu Xiu

At The Hard to Find Showspace, Wednesday, November

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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