Concerts can be, and should be, much bigger than music. They can be momentous culminations of emotions, anticipation, freedom, and life. Lately, they have been covered in a shade of darkness following the horrific events in Las Vegas.
As a festival-goer myself, I still can’t look at some of the photos. I know I have to, I just can’t yet. That’s my hometown, and that’s my life. I have always said that festivals are my favorite thing in the world because it’s three days full of music, sunshine, friends, vice.
So the day after a mass shooting at an outdoor concert, I decided to attend an outdoor concert. The XX performed on October 3 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO.
I think the band could feel the heaviness in the air, the palpable shift in tone, as I’ve always believed bands can do. They somehow have this sixth sense called crowd control- knowing how the crowd is receiving the music and can play to that. This night in specific, they played to a crowd of fans who had to view concerts under a new scope.
The XX played with extraordinary grace and substance. They first got attention with their dramatic, emotional mood music, drenched in passion and heavy feelings, like love, hope, loss, and devotion. As The XX glided their way through their silky smooth set, the songs flowed like honey- sweet and sticky. The crowd stuck on each syllable, each bass lick, each soaring guitar note.
The band’s new material “Say Something Loving” and “Dare” sounded like a depressive disco, and felt a little like a Joy Division song walked into a seedy dance club. “Fiction,” lead by bassist Oliver Sim was a highlight and instantly transported the crowd to the place they were when they first heard those lyrics, “Fiction, when we’re not together.”
The surprise hit of the night was the Jamie XX helmed “Loud Places,” which was featured on his exemplary album, Colours. The song is both extremely dancey and heart-wrenching. It tells the story of people who shared love at the club, now only to go to those same clubs alone, and how empty they feel without that person. This song resonated with the crowd on another level.
Finally, the performances of new classic, “On Hold” mixed with their biggest hit to date, “Angels,” from sophomore album, Coexist, allowed the crowd to truly melt away into pure bliss. It was truly during these songs that the air in the sky was alleviated of any heaviness and only the music remained.
Multiple times during the set, the band would thank the crowd profusely for coming to the show. They knew. They are perfectly aware that the crowd could have let the fear win and stayed home. I’m sure plenty of them did. But the ones who decided that fear cannot win, and that music is healing and transformative, they knew too that The XX were here for them. Romy Madley Croft the lead guitarist said that she felt homesick, but the Kansas City crowd fixed that, even if just for the time they were on stage. And the same can be said for me.