Later tonight, when I am not at work, I am going to expand on the Twitter rant I had during The xx’s concert in Montreal, which was (granted) in part due to the frustration I had about missing the Frank Ocean show going on right across the street, but which is also grounded in some thoughts I’ve been having about genre and culture and norms about audiences and live performance and how we show appreciation for music.
Anyway, for the time being, in case I get all ADHD like usual and forget to expand on all of those ideas, I just want to state for the record that the new material all sounded astounding, and unless much of what I heard was the in-concert type of remixes that they do for first album material, ‘Angels’ is very much an outlier, and Jamie xx’s touch is strong on this stuff, and there is 2step skip and UK garage beats and I am very very very excited about this new album.
The xx have always built their tracks with the mindset of people coming from a dance and R&B context, despite the fact that most of their audience seems to think of them as (a) ‘indie’ and (b) a ‘band’ first and foremost. When I saw them play smaller clubs in Montreal a few years ago, they didn’t go out of their way to dispel that assumption, but their new bigger set shouldn’t be taking place at venues like Metropolis - they should be headlining Igloofest so that thousands of people can move and sweat and flail to the impeccable rhythms and feelings that this crew were sending out.
Instead, they were clapping along to the beat and yelling “WOO!” really loudly at the beginning of every verse, and acting confused when verses and beats and guitar parts were stretched out or delayed, because. Well. Anyway.
The normative expectation at Mykki Blanco’s show two days earlier, or Katy B’s six months earlier or Lauryn Hill’s last year or Frank Ocean’s right across the street is that the audience should display their appreciation by engaging, by being present, by being active in the making of the music, dancing and singing and taking on hypeman duties, call and response, etc. etc. The normative expectation at shows that code as ‘indie’ or ‘rock’ or whatever is that the audience claps and cheers and appreciates the performance that is going on, but aren’t expected to engage or experience abandon or anything - maybe mouth along the words in semi-silent reverence.
I suppose it’s still a communal experience of a sort, but it’s more like 2000 people in a room each listening to their own iPods and saying ‘Fuck yeah!’ a lot.