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.