CMJ: The XX at Apple Soho

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The XX at Apple.

British band of the moment, The XX played a free show to a packed audience last night at Apple Soho.

I arrived around 5:30 expecting a crowd, but managed to be about 16th in line. Before getting my wristband, I went upstairs to use the restroom and ended up stumbling on to the XX soundcheck! The band sounded amazing on the Apple store’s sound system. But a staffer quickly chased gawkers away, saying we “Weren’t allowed” to watch the soundcheck. I quickly went back downstairs to sit in line. After about a 40minute wait, those waiting were allowed upstairs to the seating area. Staffers warned us that photos “weren’t allowed with out prior permission”. I ended up having a short discussion with an employee about the lack of information about the show on their web site and how ridiculous this was. If they had published this fact, they would have saved the audience members (almost all of whom brought cameras) a lot of trouble. If you ever go to a show or event at Apple Soho, just be warned they have weird rules about what you can and can’t do, and when you can sit down.

I had a prime seat, 1st row in front of the amps, so I had an unobstructed view of the stage. (The center section of row 1 was reserved for music industry execs and friends.) Nearly right at 7pm, the XX took the stage, starting out with “Intro”. If you’re not yet familiar with The XX, start listening to them now. They remind me of a mix of 80’s goth, R&B, and something else I can’t quite place. The twangy guitars have a hint of old school Cure or Bauhaus albums with a dash of slow beat R&B songs thrown in. Their self-titled debut album would be a perfect soundtrack for long late night drives, and is being praised on many music blogs for it’s sexiness. The music is slow, but not boring by any means.

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The show, which was being recorded for iTunes, was supposed to last only 30 minutes or so. The band played what appeared to be the entire album–for nearly 50minutes, including the Aalyiah cover “Hot Like Fire”. Towards the end, I snuck in a few camera phone photos, and saw a few other people doing the same. After the show, the band left the stage and fans quickly cleared out. I stopped for a few minutes to text a friend I was meeting later, and as I was about to leave, ran in to my friend Angela and her friend Mayya. Which ended up being the best thing that could possibly happen, because as we were chatting the band came out to pose for photos. The girls were nervous about talking to the band, so I of course ran up and asked if they’d mind meeting my friends and posing for photos with them. I have no fear of being a fan girl! They were more than happy to oblige, letting me take quite a few photos while they asked us how we liked the show.

The XX
The XX.

The XX Meets Their Fans
The XX with Angela and Mayya.

The XX seem like a nice group of kids (they are 19 and 20!) still getting used to the idea of fame. They talked to us for around 5 minutes, even asking what other good CMJ shows were going on that night, and letting us know when they’d be back in the US (December!). They also signed autographs for us. I didn’t have a CD, so I had them sign my CMJ press pass.

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It seemed as if they were very surprised by all the attention and acclaim they have been getting, but it’s definitely not going to their heads. I was so impressed with the show, and talking with them that I bought a ticket for their December 5th show at Webster Hall as soon as I got home. I’m going to try to get in to the Music Hall of Williamsburg and/or Tribeca Grand show tonight. There are also rumors they are playing a secret show tomorrow in Bushwick. The MHOW show is sold out, but info for the other 2 shows can be found here.


The XX Crystalized Official Video.

Photos and content ®2009 RS/The Greyest Ghost.

CMJ Day One: Laura Marling and The Antlers

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Yesterday was the first day of the CMJ music festival here in New York. I picked up my badge near Washington Square park, but skipped the press meet and greet to finish my shopping and errands. After a quick dinner, I ran over to the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It was my first time attending a show there. The venue is small, but impressive. The crowd was at capacity, but there was still room to move with out being smothered.

Around 9:30, Laura Marling took the stage. I wondered how Laura and her guitar (alone with just a cello player accompanying her) would be loud enough to hear over the crowd. But Laura’s voice is clear and powerful, and the audience was amused by her quiet small talk. She seemed a bit shy, but very excited to be in Williamsburg, which she said is one of her favorite places on Earth.

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Laura’s set was short, but sweet. She played a lot of new material, which I wasn’t familiar with, mixed in with songs from her first album “Alas I Cannot Swim” (like “Ghosts”, My Manic and I”), and a few outtakes (like “No Hope in the Air” and “Blackberry Stone”). I’d been waiting what seemed like months for Laura to come to the US. After her short set last night, I’m very sorry I missed the chance to get tickets for her sold out show at the Public Theater this Friday.

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I wasn’t familiar with The Antlers before seeing them last night. But I can understand why they have a growing following. Their live show is fast, and intense for a 3 person band, and had the audience captivated. I only caught half of the show, due to not feeling very well and wanting to get home before my train stopped running. But I can definitely see The Antlers, on many “CMJ bands to watch” lists becoming even more popular in the future.

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The Antlers.

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Read the L magazine’s review of the entire show here. The author compares Laura to Joni Mitchell, which I couldn’t agree with more!

The Best of What’s Going on This Week: Too Much

CMJ is kicking my ass, and it’s only day 2. It feels like fashion week all over again, just with music.
There is so much going on, I don’t even know where to start. I need to clone myself so I can be in 2 or 3 places at once. I’m literally getting a new email every 10minutes with some type of event flyer.

A small sampling of this week’s best offerings. Most of these are free!

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Except this one. Not free.
Flavorpill’s CMJ Guide.
My Open Bar has a list of the events with free booze.

The after parties and some shows:

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Did you RSVP? The list is now closed.


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Vice parties are always interesting.


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Tonight!


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Free show Saturday! RSVP!

If you don’t care about CMJ, go to this:

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Food and Booze. All. Day. Long.

Don’t even get me started on Halloween. Leave event suggestions here!