Concert review: The xx and Grizzly Bear at the LC

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Special post by Matthew Lovett

A bill with both Grizzly Bear and The xx seemed too impossible. Two indie rock titans, both of which could headline an LC show, were coming to Columbus together to perform a night of the chillest, most subdued music in the satellite airwaves. Suffice to say, I was stoked for what would be one of the best shows of the summer (until Japandroids the following day.)

I was in a quandary over the headliner; why didn't my boys in Grizzly Bear headline? Perhaps it was all the attention xx percussionist/producer Jamie xx was doing that pushed his band to the spotlight. Regardless, it was a minor feud that was resolved once I saw the performance.

Grizzly Bear rocked about an hour long set, churning out the best of its new record, Shields, including "Speak in Rounds," "Sleeping Ute" and "Yet Again." All were met with sincere applause. It wasn't until they pulled out older songs that the crowd fell into silence, allowing the band's thick instrumentation and accomplished musicianship come over them. It was "Knife," a Yellow House cut, that did it for me.

Many, myself included, will take their time getting to shows in the hopes of missing the opening band. Such was not the case for this concert; many of the attendees were at the LC for Grizzly Bear just as much as they were there for the xx. (I can't speak for the Urban Outfitters-equipped preteens that were taking photos of themselves for the entirety of Grizzly Bear.)

About a half hour later, as the sun was being eclipsed by our earth, the xx took the stage clad in black. The xx mystique was finally seen in person, and not a bead of sweat rolled down their scalps the entire night.

My issues with the xx set were directly comparable to those associated with the Local Natives show at the LC a couple of months ago; a mantra of hipsterdom: the old stuff always seems better. The songs that blew people's minds were from the xx's self-titled debut, including the likes of "Crystalised," "Heart Skipped a Beat," "VCR" and "Islands." The last two songs mentioned were played right after another, synthesizing a crowd that had lost its composure. I went berserk for "Intro" during the band's encore, an event I marked in my personal music history.

That said, I'm done being nit-picky. The new tunes were adored nonetheless, particularly "Try," which opened the night, and "Angels," which closed it. "Fiction" also appeared to be a popular one.

I thought the LC outdoor venue would hinder an xx performance. When I imagine the xx live, I think basements or tiny black box stages, not monstrous pavilions. However, the xx's eerie, intimate music translated well to a large outdoor venue. Its presence in itself was probably enough to garner folks' attention, but the band had some assistance from an acute, purple and blue laser-light show that was synced with Jamie xx's production and cymbal mashing.

Although the band rarely stopped to talk to the crowd (its performance was almost like some continuous, down-tempo DJ set) the xx consistently thanked the crowd. It was heart-warming, but only if the xx - maybe even with Grizzly Bear - grace Columbus with their presence again.