- GRAMMY Live
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Sarah Mudler
The grandeur of the Chicago Theatre, with its hallmark twinkling State Street marquee and castle-like lobby, is a sight to see for any concertgoer. The 3,600-seat room has been home to an exhaustive cast of musical luminaries, including the Allman Brothers Band, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Benny Goodman, and Van Morrison, and on Sept. 28 Barclaycard Mercury Prize-winning electronic trio the xx joined that list in front of a sold-out crowd.
Their self-titled debut album, released in October 2009, was met with widespread critical acclaim and broke Billboard's Top 10 on the Top Independent Albums chart as the British threesome played to rabid crowds at major music festivals across the United States and Europe.
The crowd was anxious as it awaited the arrival of the xx to the stage. Finally, after two support bands — singer Zola Jesus and atmospheric alterna-rock band Warpaint — and what seemed like an endless set change, the stark black stage curtain dropped with a dramatic, bare resonance as the notoriously shy group — Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith — bore into the rhythmic tribal beats of the aptly named "Intro."
Other than a few road cases and the signature xx on the DJ-style music production booth that Smith operates, the stage was bathed in an eerie nothingness, filled only with the androgynous oily vein of '90s lovers' rock mixed with post-apocalyptic electronica.
The stage lights circled the small set and glinted off of the gold, Romanesque statues and paintings adorning the walls and balconies of the space while smoke eerily filtered through the light, making it seem as if the band was on fire.
They appeared to be in their own world, playing for a distant audience with their silent onstage presence. Breaking the trance-like flow from song to song, Sim addressed the crowd, almost groveling for their appreciation or approval. "We first played in Chicago back in December, and since then we have played here six times," said Sim. "So thank you," she said as the band rolled into their beloved cover of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops."
Croft's sweet guitar licks broke through her woeful teenage lyrics as the band launched into "Islands."
"I am yours now," Croft sang. The crowd swayed with their cocktails in hand in appreciation as they slowly oozed their way to the front of the room to the rhythmical beat of droning guitar.
After a chanting audience lured them back onstage for an encore, Croft looked appreciatively into the spent crowd and closed the night launching into "Stars" with her simple, honest style.
"We just want to say thank you."
"Heart Skipped A Beat"
To catch the xx in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(A Midwest girl at heart, Sarah Mudler joined The Recording Academy Chicago Chapter in 2004. Coming from a Detroit rock background, she has expanded her musical interests into everything from pop to blues to jazz to gospel, and even a little country now and again. She can be seen haunting local Chicago venues almost every night of the week, and is currently the Senior Project Manager for the Chicago Chapter.)
(Photo information: The xx perform at the Chicago Theatre on Sept. 28 / Photo: The Recording Academy)