Xiu Xiu plays Bowery Ballroom - Oh My Rockness

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Xiu Xiu plays Bowery Ballroom

September 1, 2005
Jamie Stewart (a.k.a. Xiu Xiu) sings his despairing, autobiographical baggage for all to painfully hear. He is excruciatingly honest in song, with lyrics that make no attempt to hide the simple truth that life can be just plain awful. But we aren't talking about an "emo" band here. There is not someone singing out the lyrics of his diary, lamenting the loss of a girl who left him for another guy at the movie theater. With Xiu Xiu, there is something bigger here than self-absorbed jealousy and young lust. These are tales of death, drug abuse and mental illness. There is sadness, there is anger, and there is pain. But ultimately, there is also a sense of redemption in these disclosures through song.

Xiu Xiu make music full of layered instrumentation that often builds to aggressive, climactic endings from ornate, intimate beginnings. The influence of classical music is just as easy to hear as those of standard rock. Bells, gongs, harmonious keys, and a sense of inspirational improvisation are often the driving force behind these songs of longing. Sporadic guitar blasts and strangely programmed beats over Stewart's distorted shrieks might give first time listeners the impulse to quickly press 'eject.'

The initial feeling to "make it end" is understandable when listening to Xiu Xiu. They are anything but an instantly accessible band. Xiu Xiu are challenging to their core, lyrically and musically. Those without fragile psyches, who can settle in and let these songs sink in, will no doubt be rewarded. Everything worth anything requires work and plenty of patience. Xiu Xiu requires both of these things. And that's where the emotional intimacy comes in. It's almost like singer and listener are together working out how to get through all of this, albeit in very different ways. You will love it. You will hate it. But you will not be indifferent.

Xiu Xiu plays Bottom Lounge, Friday, September 9th.


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