Hearing the opening of The xx's single "Intro" (featured during the Olympics on an AT&T commercial with speed-skater Apolo Ohno) the broiling mass of humanity that filled the French Legation grounds in East Austin Thursday evening let out a collective sigh.
The late-starting set was one of the year's biggest buzz bands launching its SXSW assault, playing its first of many showcases. Yet The xx is one of those new British bands - think Bloc Party or White Lies - that doesn't really seem suited for sunny festival settings. Sex and dark moods shape their songs, so while they played their quasi-hits "Crystallize" and "Islands," the energy remained diffuse.
The lyrics were muted. Listeners turned to conversation and heckling one and other rather that digging the band. One hopes the singer-guitarist Romy Madley-Croft finds her inner belter this week. Certainly, on the winning "Infinity," with a guitar line that sounds suspiciously similar Chris Issak's "Wicked Game," the band showed charisma.
Alas, The xx were gone from this showcase before we got better acquainted.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.