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Concert Review: The XX//Salle Metropole//Lausanne, Switzerland//1 December 2012

So it is no secret to anyone that I adore The XX. I have given them out several times as song of the day and I even wrote a special long review of their new album because I enjoyed it so much. I also reviewed their performance at Open’er Festival. However both times that I have seen them has been a festival (the other time was Primavera 3.5 years ago). So it was good to finally catch them at their own dedicated show.

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The concert was held at Salle Metropole in Lausanne. It was my first time there and I was quite surprised that they had invited the XX. The venue is reserved for big shows (Cirque du Soleil) and classical concerts. I was expecting more a venue like Les Docks for this type of band. But I think that after the huge success of their first album, serious money was pumped into their second tour and they probably needed a venue with high technical offering to fully maximize all their equipment.

The venue foyer is beautiful, there are three levels and large circular holes in the middle of each of them with a massive light. It really gives a grand theatre Titanic-era glow to the place. It’s one of those venues with a standing floor and a seated upper level for concerts, just like Olympia (Paris). And to be fair although I struggle with the task of sitting during a concert, the XX is a type of concert some people may feel more comfortable sitting to enjoy.

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The show started in a beautiful gloomy atmosphere with a thin black curtain covering them and a white visual being projected onto it. However a close claustrophobic faint situation unfortunately made me miss the first two songs so I cannot comment more.  Anyways two minutes to gulp some water, take in some fresh air and I’m back in to find a pretty vibing crowd for Switzerland standards. People are cheering the band and I’m impressed that we managed a semi enthusiastic crowd. The first song to really strike me is Our Song, the last one off their new album Co-exist.

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That is a secret favourite of mine. It really accentuates how raw and vulnerable Romy and Oliver make themselves when they sing from the very bottom of their body. It also highlights just how much they are the masters of minimalism. I’m sure I’ve written this several times but this band really makes every single song so incredibly perfect, clear, and impactful. They are also the kings of control. Songs start generally slow, speed up, beat up, build up, crescendo but never quite get out of control or break loose. It may be this beautiful restraint that gives The XX their signature sound. That and the BOOMING base that they love to abuse so that the entire ceiling, lights and every bone in your body vibrates.

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Just like in Open’er this show accentuates is just how much Jamie Smith (known as Jamie XX) has grown and how important his contribution is to the group has become. Not only did Jamie create the majority of the beats LIVE on the millions of machines and instruments he had layered out behind the two vocalists/guitarists, he also mixed and interlinked song to song in a completely original way. This made it possible to really feel we were living a unique experience as songs were tweaked; their tempo and accents mixed up and stitched into each other, keeping the audience on their toes.

On a few songs (Reunion, Swept Away) Jamie finally literally got the limelight he deserved when a huge spot lit up above him to bring clarity to his important contribution. I was hypnotized by his fingers moving all over some magic buttons during Hearts Skipped a Beat. However I was shocked he did not come centre stage at the end to partake in a proper bow.

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Although Jamie received more attention than in the past, the star of the show was Oliver. His confidence has grown immensely from when I first saw him, just after the release of their first album. He struts backwards and forwards on the stage, throws his body in different angles, and continues to have his signature way of playing his bass guitar: in a very swinging flowing motion almost creating an eight as he strums the strings. His voice is as powerful yet clear as ever. However although Romy nailed every single guitar solo to the split second and mesmerized us all with the vulnerability in her voice, she hid in the shadows in this performance.

But the most amazing addition to the show was by far the LIGHTING. WOW. To begin with the XX’s music is naturally mystical, their look is dark and mysterious and even listening to them in my room takes me to another magical land. But boy did they maximize this with the lighting. At first very simple and gloomy: mainly black and white. The engineers know not to underestimate the power of shadows. They then added three very powerful ‘windmill’ type of lights cutting the stage horizontally and made us standing crowd feel like we were in a dark marsh. The light then turn vertically and created waves of light that Oliver danced through. Very effective. Slowly they introduced colours. First a sunset ray feel, then some very powerful green rays that broke on the singers head. It really felt like being on a different planet.

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This came to a climax and the end of the first part when a curtain was lifted to reveal a huge X at the back of the stage. The crowd cheered like mad. Then the band disappeared off the stage as the huge X filled up with smoke. Surprisingly enough they came back up for an encore (something I have never seen them do) to the relief of the screaming crowd. The encore was long 5 maybe 6 songs and by the end of the show they must have played nearly every song on the two albums. Oliver continued to assure us in his calm, near depressed voice that they were very happy to be here with us. Although it’s hard to feel it in his spoken voice, we all heard it in their singing, in their instruments, in their presence and in the atmosphere created that they had generously and sincerely gave us a little part of their magical far away land.

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MasMusic is back

So it’s been a month but I’m back! And boy do I have things to share with you.

The first good news is do not fear, as promised I will be starting up Song of the Day again. So for all of those of you who felt daily music deprivization (yes that’s now officially a word) – your easy fix is back on the roll. Just sign up to the blog by email and I’ll be back in your inbox.

Secondly the great news as I now have my very own site. I will use this site to continue what I have been doing for the past two years as well as share with you my journey of cracking into the music industry. You can read more about what the blog aims to do here.

On a side note, can we talk about the effort of setting up a blog. I am now officially colour blind from going through every single WordPress theme, colour, background combination. So please just love it and accept it. Firstly because I can no longer differentiate brown from blue and secondly because 36.7 times is about the maximum you can ask a patient freelancer in Pakistan to change a logo.

Thirdly, I have loads to share with you from my month of madness. Who ever thought being unemployed was a holiday is not a hyper bunny like me. Things have not stopped since I quit and I have loads of exciting news (including a great trip to London and a possible new band! to tell you all about).

But one thing at time. Let me start with your tune which I have been dying to give out since I got my ear on it. And which included last weekend in my DJ set and will most probably play again next Thursday at this event (which I have a feeling will be our best event to date so don’t miss it).

And I’ll spill the rest of the news slowly.

So without further ado, here is Ra Ra Riot‘s new single Beta Love

Oh just get up on your desk, dance around and try reach that high note (which obviously is not humanly possible!).
Come on you know you want to.

Hope to see you all at the XX concert in Lausanne tonight.

MasMusic
Living the dream

Song of the day: GO TO CONCERTS

Hello kids,

So as always after a lovely weekend of music I come to you with more great new suggestions for a live music experience.
I have said it several times and I will say it again: GO WATCH MUSIC CONCERTS! This is the best way to really appreciate bands and keep the music industry afloat.
How would you like it if you did something incredible and no one was there to witness it?
I promise you won’t regret it.

So not only do I have one new suggestion I have over 10! I finally updated the concert calendar on our FB Page.
Because the following months are going to be BUSY in and around Geneva on the music front.
As always Les Docks gets the number 1 prize with bringing you the most outstanding bands.
So go check it out and put in your calendar so you don’t forget and buy tickets already so you don’t have to deal with disappointment when they sell out.

So the first of these concerts to highlight is Of Monsters and Men, which are playing at Les Docks on Wed.
You should remember from a previous SOTD where I gave out Little Talks. They have a lovely Arcade First look and sound to them.
I can highly recommend the concert – check out all the details here.

Here is a lovely live version of Dirty Paws

Hope to see you on Wed

MasMusic

I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Song of the day: Will you be jamming in the forest tonight?

Dear Songers,

So tonight is another great opportunity to go to the For Noise festival.
There is none other than German Digitalism.
These guys were in the forefront of blurring indie rock music with indie rock. Similar to the Klaxons or LCD Soundsystem.
I’ve already given you their best songs: Pogo and Circles.

Today I give you Stratosphere

Hope to see you tonight dancing in the forest nearby. Buy your ticket here.

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Song of the day: Still there must be a more elegant solution

Hello kids,

So remember how I talked about the awesome festival that starting tonight called For Noise.
Well it gets even better, I have 2 tickets for you, selling at a special price for fans of song of the day. So just contact me if you are interested.

So if you want another reason to go tonight. There is also Of Montreal playing. They have been playing since 1997 and so were at the forefront of the indie pop revolution.
Its bright, its happy, it’s got some psychedelic touches and in later stages some fun with synth.

Here is a great single from their latest album that came out earlier this year called Paralytic Stalks, only their 11th album!

Spiteful Intervention

I love the wooooohoooooo part. Weird and wonderful.

It’s fucking sad that we need a tragedy to occur
To gain a fresh perspective in our lives

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Song of the day: For Noise Festival starting tomorrow

Hello kids,

Sorry for my absence I was sick. Back I am to give you the wonderful news that from tomorrow there is one of the best festivals you cannot miss out on.
It’s called For Noise and it’s in Lausanne-Pully. And not only has the festival had great line ups three years in a row, nor the fact that it was the first ever concert/festival I went to after 2 weeks of arriving in Geneva but it’s the coolest venue ever. The festival is in the middle of a FOREST. You will see the best bands in a very intimate setting surrounded by trees.

How much cooler can it really get?

So let’s start with some of the lineup of tomorrow. It’s the already featured Feist. You should know her hugely popular 1234.

Here is  My Moon My Man

And then as an extra here is the remix by none other than Grizzly Bear (who’s new album in on my to do list).

So buy tickets and go watch it all live

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Concert Review: Ben Howard// D!Club// Lausanne// 27 June 2012

Posted on

Hello kids

So you should remember Ben Howard back from a few months ago when I gave you The Fear as first sample (also my favourite song – check out the lyrics).

So last night I went to see Ben Howard at D!Club Lausanne – the second time in a week. Not bad.
I was really happy to see him in a dedicated concert. It reconfirms my opinion that artists you really love you should see at their own concert vs. a festival.

Don’t get me wrong, I like festivals – but the performance never compares.
Last night’s performance was 10 steps above that of Hackney Weekend.

Beni is a superb live act. Not only does he build up and drop the song at ten times the intensity of the recorded version but he also adds lots of amazing variations and twist with his voice. His voice is close to perfection and the control and range and power with which he executes his songs is nothing short of breath taking.

His three disciples were not bad either. The multi-talented percussion player, whipped out a cello, a guitar and then a drum. And the bassist juggled strumming his base and hitting some drums in the same song. I admit to not being really focused on the drummer.

The band really managed to keep a high grip of the audience all the way through by mixing folky songs and more rocking songs. Changing the instruments up. Slow and more upbeat songs. And most importantly dramatic build ups and drops 3/4 into the song to create suspense for the big finish (something in my opinion they abused a little bit – but hey I’ll give it to them it’s very effective).

So all in all wonderful concert. The crowd definitely agreed as there was loud shouting and cheering the entire way through. He mistakenly admitted that he was very happily surprised by the support as he had been told the French part of Switzerland is rather boring (true but not necessarily the right thing to say). And also that he had tanned in his boxers with his fellow band member on a boat on the lake the whole day and resembled a gay couple. haha.

So why don’t you listen to his wonderful song The Wolves.

But just know it’s not even close to as good as it was live.

However I do recommend check this out if you want to get a feel for how he uses his guitar as a drum.

Put my name on it – this guy is going to be huge.

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day