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From Panorama Music Festival 2018: The xx Shine at the Otherwise Rainy Festival

By Josh M. Grossman, Crimson Staff Writer

A pair of massive, V-shaped, inward-folding dual screens went black when the xx took the stage at Panorama. Coming out to their electronic hit, “Intro,” the xx members took the stage en force. Jamie xx started behind the DJ booth, while Romy Croft and Oliver Sims came upstage and began playing their respective bass and guitar. The xx’s sparse, often sombre, and sometimes dazzlingly beautiful sound makes heavy use of monotony and downtempo electronic music, which is then combined with flashes of melodic and lyrical beauty. Their music is the dark emptiness of black and white mixed with the realness and the rainbow of human emotion also present in their lyrical and melodic choices. The band has a excellently crafted and curated aesthetic and sound, and delivered a phenomenal performance, showing that they have truly mastered their craft.


As the xx launched into “Islands,” the screens came alive with dreamy rainbow filters over Romy and Oliver as they performed. Not only were the outfits wonderfully curated—the on-screen visuals were breathtaking. With each song, live footage from the on-stage cameras was put through filters which added colors fitting to the music and bright geometric patterns over the xx. As the sun set over the course of the show, the bright and dreamy colors of the screens gave a warm and exciting glow to the audience. It was apparent that their every detail had been thought out. Their outfits matched. The visuals aligned perfectly with every song, and somehow matched the costumes as well by highlighting the band’s signature black, white, and rainbow colors. The band was remarkably well-coordinated, so much so that they almost had their own aesthetic.


The xx gave a fantastic performance of their hit, “Say Something Loving.” The song, at once distant and urgent, lit up the audience in a pink glow. It was abundantly clear that the xx and their entire creative team have toured extensively and really know what they are doing. “Crystallized” brought out Oliver and Romy’s dynamic performing relationship. The tense song saw the two wildly swinging their instruments as they approached each other and played mere inches away from one another.


After “Crystallized,” Oliver Sims dedicated the next song to “all the lovely LGBT people here tonight,” prouding declaring, “I see you, I love you, I am one of you.” It was a beautiful and heartfelt moment, and through the xx’s polished veneer, it was lovely see Oliver stepping out and engaging the audience as a person as well as a performer. The song that had just been dedicated was revealed to be, “Friction,” one of only two songs that night off of 2012’s “Coexist.”


After a positively smashing performance of Jamie xx’s “Loud Places,” Romy announced to the audience that this would be the last stop on their year-long “I See You” tour. They closed out the show with their forlorn call to a former lover, “On Hold,” and the longing ballad, “Angels.” The xx’s commitment to the music as they played was deeply admirable. The band certainly has a curated image and look, yet the feelings and passion behind it all were so undeniably real and visible in their performance. The band has adapted their own brand of dance, bedroom pop, and electronic rock into a live show that perfectly encapsulates their aesthetic.


—Staff writer Josh M. Grossman can be reached at josh.grossman@thecrimson.com.

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