Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last Night: The xx, Phantogram at The Great American Music Hall

Posted By on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Phantogram at the Great American last night
  • Phantogram at the Great American last night

The xx
@ The Great American Music Hall
June 1, 2010

Better than: The light show at the Planetarium.

The Great American Music Hall was flooded with an unusual excess of smoke and bass during the Phantogram and The xx show last night. It didn't seem to bother anyone though. The audience didn't have to change the tempo of their head nodding throughout both bands' sets. The monotony of the music combined with the low-energy performances would have been almost unbearable if there hadn't been a killer light show breaking the trance


The psyche pop duo, Phantogram, played their set through the haze of the smoke, often disappearing into it when the lighting changed. Keyboardist and singer Sarah Barthel has a voice reminiscent of early Portishead. Her stage presence drew the attention away from her partner, guitarist Josh Carter, who looked oblivious to everything but the guitar he was playing. Phantogram's set induced a lull in the audience that The xx's performance only enhanced. The hypnotizing electronic beats, with massive bass that reverberated through every nerve in the body was the overriding force of the evening that sadly; the show wasn't as effective as it was hyped up to be.

The way The xx sauntered out onto stage for their set was almost like a funeral procession. They were dressed in all black and fronted indifference on their pale faces. The drummer, Jamie Smith, sported a black t-shirt with Ronnie Spector's face, glorious beehive and all. Singer Romy Madley Croft picked up her sparkly black Gibson Les Paul and started playing a one-note lick that was overwhelmed by a gigantic bass pulse, almost flooring the crowd. The sheer force of the bass felt like a full, unrelenting, body massage. Thankfully, the apocalyptic bass wasn't pounding through the entire set.

The xx
  • The xx

The xx are minimalist musicians, and they have artfully crafted a lot of silence into their stage show for a haunting effect. When singer and bass player Oliver Sim went a capella for the beginning of one number, the audience went stone cold silent. His ghostly voice sailed through the crowd. The seriousness with which The xx played last night was professional and aloof. There was little said other than, "Thank you". The audience murmured along to most of the set. Despite the lethargic tempos and the fact that all their songs were in the same key, everyone lapped up the performance.

Critic's Notebook:
If The xx had one thing going for them, it was definitely their brilliant light show.

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

Carla Selvin


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"