screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Sometimes You’re Just Doomed – The xx @ Newbury Comics and with Friendly Fires @ The Paradise, 12/4/09

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The day started out innocently enough. Well, apart from only just having breakfast at noon, but that’s become standard operating procedure with my middle of the night paying job. I went into town to see my friend Mary who had come in from Washington, D.C. to see The xx at a Newbury Comics in-store, and to cover their show with Friendly Fires at the Paradise for There Goes the Fear and PopWreckoning.

We waited for about an hour past the scheduled time (due to a late arrival of equipment) in an enormous line of several hundred people at Newbury Comics, during which time I got a parking ticket for being at a (paid) meter for too long – go figure, it’s always something. Finally, we were all poured into two narrow aisles between CD racks to see (well, not exactly see) The xx perform a gorgeous, absolutely breathtaking 7-song set of their dreamy atmospheric music. Percussionist/keyboardist Jamie Smith, singer/guitarist Romy Madley Croft, and singer/bassist Oliver Sim conjured a magical trip through dark, mysterious English forests amongst racks of CDs, glaring fluorescent lights, t-shirts, stockings, and Dr. Who memorabilia. Ok, well maybe the Dr. Who stuff made sense somehow. They recently lost keyboard player Baria Qureshi to the exhausting rigors of international touring, yet for me, hearing them live for the first time, their music sounded rich and full, a beautifully ethereal swirling mass of sounds and textures which swept us off to some distant place. I later learned they’ll be headlining their own show on April 2 at the Paradise. My advice: buy your tickets NOW.

Romy Madley Croft of The xx

Romy Madley Croft of The xx

In-store setlist
Basic Space
Night Time

Despite the long wait and cramped quarters, the in-store proved to be a great success; the actual show, not so much. The one good thing that happened was that I found a parking space quickly, which was something of a marvel on Commonwealth Ave. outside the Paradise on a Friday night. This gave me a false sense of well-being and a completely inaccurate omen of a good night to come.

It was my own fault. Having seen Friendly Fires back in March when they came through with White Lies at that same venue, there were still tickets at the door the night of the show, so I thought I had plenty of time. I was wrong. As I told FF guitarist Edd Gibson in the lounge before the show, during a strange conversation – “uh hi, nice to meet you, sorry I can’t be at your show tonight…” – what was bad for me was great for them. Wow, have they gotten popular in 8 months time! I’m guessing that may well be their last show at the 650-capacity Paradise, and it’ll be the House of Blues next time around.

Jamie Smith and Oliver Sim of The xx at Newbury Comics, with their newest members... oh wait, never mind.

Jamie Smith and Oliver Sim of The xx at Newbury Comics, with their newest members... oh wait, never mind. (yes, they have Twilight Saga memorabilia.)

I commiserated for a while outside with fellow ticket hunters. I hope you guys got lucky. One girl who drove down from New Hampshire to see the show with a friend fortunately scored a ticket, I think, as some stranger’s “plus one”. I then got into a just-shy-of-physical confrontation with a scalper who tried (unsuccessfully, it seems) to upstage us so that he could procure tickets himself and then gouge us. If he had purchased the tickets beforehand, I wouldn’t have minded so much, but something about his comment, “You need tickets? I’ll get back to you in a minute” set me off. Almost as much as when he said to me, “hey, this is my job. I wasn’t born into money like you.” Honey, if I was born into money, would I be standing out here on a skanky Boston street corner trying to find a Paradise Rock Club ticket? Uh no, I would be in L.A. for the weekend, seeing my favorite band at an elegant venue.

I ended up at a friend’s apartment watching a PBS pledge drive and bad late-night talk shows, and torturing myself with live tweets from the Airborne Toxic Event performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

My lovely evening continued with a nasty note from my friend’s neighbor on my windshield, warning me to “never park in their space ever again” (yes, it could have been worse; fortunately my car wasn’t towed), and then at 1 am, to cap it off, I was stuck in standstill traffic on Route 1 heading back to the North Shore, and then pulled over and questioned as part of a “sobriety checkpoint”. I explained to the officer “I don’t drink at all anymore”, and he promptly let me go. He’ll never know, at that particular moment, how much I desperately wished I still did.

[For an actual review of the show, please see Mary Chang’s write-ups for PopWreckoning and There Goes the Fear (direct links to be added when she gets them up).]

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Show Preview: An Evening With Switchfoot ~ Paradise Rock Club, Boston ~ Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Review: The Happy Hollows ~ “Spells”


  1. Henry R.

    Julie, It sounds like you had an awesome/random night. I love the way you describe every little detail, It felt as if I was right there besides you. That’s pretty strange though, parking ticket for a paid meter? I thought L.A parking was bad. Scalpers I can’t stand. I remember when I got extra Comp tickets for a Airborne show back in March and the dude behind me in line suggested that I should sell it, I ended up giving it away to girl who really wanted to see them (real fan). I’ve never heard of this band xx or Friendly Fires before I’ll make sure to give them a listen to.

    Great Blog Julie!

  2. Great review as always Julie! I’m glad you were at least able to see the xx and enjoyed the performance at the in-store. I really liked the set-up of the Paradise (and Tweeted them so) and will defo be up again in Boston to see a show with you soon 🙂

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