It’s a quiet eruption for Friday’s EP headliners, The xx
London trio seem slightly awed by Stradbally’s response
The xx on the main stage at Electric Picnic. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Main Stage, Friday
The xx have an introverted appeal; their music, a careful minimalism
that makes every element feel significant, is the sound of a party winding down, the burn of experience resolving into its glowing embers. As a mainstage headliner, on the first propulsive day of the festival, they are not an obvious proposition, even if they have held this spot before.
Popularity has made the shy London trio learn to compensate and, in recent releases, to loosen up. Opening with Crystallized, singer and bassist Oliver Sim sings as though he would rather hold onto the words, while Romy Madley Croft answers him in the soft ragged whisper of the end of an argument. They move, though, with surplus energy, as though this was a joust.
Like Jamie Smith, a maestro of the sampler, who, on Say Something Loving, makes button pushing seem like an intricate dance, this is as spectacular as The xx are going to get.
It says something that they seem slightly awed by the crowd’s response, with Islands, their sprung marvel about mutual affection, a highpoint for the temporarily overwhelmed.
Wisely, they absorb Jamie’s club-friendly solo piece Loud Places into the set, which ushers a rainbow of colour into the visuals. It also helps drive the set onwards where, like the airy notes of VCR, it would prefer to decelerate. It all makes for pleasing contradiction, a quiet eruption.
In three words: The subtle revolution.
If you liked that, go see: Floating Points