Gig Review - The XX Night & Day, Berlin

Posted Tuesday 28th May, 2013 by Martin

Whilst the prospect of 5 days in a field without washing/sleeping/being sober still evokes some sort of excitement, I increasingly find that surpassed by the dread of all that effort. A one day festival in a derelict theme park in Berlin curated by the XX therefore seemed like the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway combined with some good music. 

We arrived on site to torrential rain (another reason I seem to attend less festivals than I used to seems to be my weather track record!) and headed straight to the bar to drown our already soggy sorrows and then have a look round the site. Spreepark last saw family fun in 2001 when it closed due to insolvency, and has since stood as an eerie relic, the rides and attractions allowed to fall into disrepair, the rusty ferris wheel still turning slowly, empty and silent. An awesome backdrop to a day of music in the rain.

Missing the first act, we got to the stage just in time for Kindness' brilliant 80's tinged set. It was their first show of the season which showed a little, but the fun had onstage shone through, and any band with backing singers (especially when one is called Rebecca Freckleton) is alright in my book. Already apparent though was the annoying sound restrictions and as the next act started it was clear that we were going to be 'ramped' all afternoon. This is a frustrating trend in live music which see's the early acts made quieter to make the headliners louder, which I wouldn't have expected from the XX. The only losers in this silly trick are the audience.

Anyway, with beers charged (after a 40 minute wait) we went and watched the rest of the afternoon's acts. Mount Kimbie were an act I'd heard a lot about but never seen. Although fun to listen to, it did seem like we'd been invited to a rehearsal session - not much of a show! Chromatics (the ones from the Drive soundtrack) showed us that the most important thing to do on stage is be nonchalant and so cool that to do anything would shatter the illusion. In a word, boring, though the live synth bass was great. After that, Jessie Ware came on and did a good job of entertaining everyone. Not sure she has the songs yet, but held the stage well and was engaging and likeable, admitting that she "doesn't have many dance tracks" so asked everyone to bear with her, which was nice.

That just left the organisers and headliners to take to the stage. Lack of beer due to bars with a single pump (!) for 400 people got tensions frayed a little but once we were in and settled they were (as predicted) completely sublime. A unique take on music and stage show which is refreshing, they slowly worked through old and new work, and even worked in an 'XX'd' version of 90's pop house hits 'Lady' and 'Music Sounds Better With You' which worked brilliantly. I just wished they'd included 'Horny' by Mousse T to round it off!

Watch the XX play their 90s pop house medley HERE