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In concert: The xx

STthexxweb30-7.jpgThe xx played two sold-out shows at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue Sunday. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Ally Schweitzer

British trio the xx, lauded in the blogosphere for its minimalist approach to angsty pop music, pack a lot of yearning into each note. But it was difficult to be satisfied with the few notes the band offered Sunday afternoon at the sold-out Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.

In a music market where teenage desire is monopolized by supercharged anthems, the xx released a gloomy, navel-gazing debut album last year that delivered a heaping scoop of sexual frustration with zero additives. The band finds their voice in stripped-down, New Order-tinged love songs held together with musical dental floss — a few guitar plucks here, a murmuring bass line there, and the mumbled dialogue between guitarist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim, who don’t really duet as much as they sigh in each other’s direction.

(A decidedly un-spiritual performance, after the jump.)

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The synagogue’s dramatic stained glass lent a godly aspect to the trio’s all-black garb, compelling Sim to remark, “I feel like a religious figure.” But the xx didn’t offer themselves to a higher power on Sunday. They stuck to their restrained style and played a technically refined set that often suffered from stunted growth. Croft in particular sounded trapped by her artistic inhibition — avoiding singing as adamantly as she avoids chords, her excessively breathy proclamations of longing concealed what could be a formidable voice.

Meanwhile, perhaps caving to the young male need to destroy something, Sim appeared to relish any opportunity to inject much-needed testosterone into the show. He practically assaulted a crash cymbal during their last song, seizing two mallets and battering it like an angry adolescent in therapy. Let it all out, man. And take that into the studio for your next album.

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By Ally Schweitzer  |  March 29, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: The xx  
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