Photos of Xiu Xiu at La Zona Rosa in Austin, TX on September 14th, 2012
Photos of Xiu Xiu, performing Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures with Deerhoof at Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn, NY on July 11th, 2010
QRO’s review of Xiu Xiu, as part of the ‘Bad Art Auction’, at (le) Poisson Rouge in New York, NY on November 19th, 2008
Photos of Xiu Xiu at Fordham University in The Bronx, NY on March 25h, 2008
For a Tuesday night, a half full room is pretty good for a small venue like Doug Fir in Portland. And for a musician that is pretty much antithesis of commercial pop like Xiu Xiu, the number of attendees is telling about the band’s fan base in the Rose City.
Bathed in glowing blood red gel, Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo looked like entities from netherworld materializing out of the deep blue backdrop.
Xiu Xiu playing “Hi” at Doug Fir in Portland, OR on May 29th, 2012:
After a few minutes of fiddling with soundcheck, Stewart thanked the audience and asked to applaud for the opening bands, Yamataka//Sonic Titan (QRO photos) and Father Murphy (QRO photos) – probably about the only time the brainchild of Xiu Xiu spoke to the crowd. Then the duo spent about a minute and half striking the gong as a preface to ” Fabulous Muscles” from 2004. Gently caressing his guitar, Stewart hovered over the mic, emitting tortured sob. Songs like the highly charged and danceable single off the latest LP, Always, “Hi” and the cover of Joy Division’s “Ceremony” were two of the most accessible for the casual attendees.
Xiu Xiu covering Joy Divison’s “Ceremony” live at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR on May 29th, 2012:
Stewart’s body language throughout the show displayed as much pain as his fragile weeping vocals. Writhing, stomping, gyrating, and even rolling on the floor – like Morrissey on acid, the Durham, NC resident was not shy to let his emotion take over. While Stewart knew how to make his guitar weep, most of the time he hurled and shredded the six-string ferociously. Stewart performs with every inch of his nerve and such an involved display could be either exhausting or captivating, depending on your taste and expectations. In contrast, Seo wore a stoic face throughout the show. Even when she produced screeching sound from her keyboard on “F.T.W.”, she showed no emotional connection to the music, aside from swaying to the beat now and then. In between the songs, Stewart quickly took a gulp of water from a paper cup as if he didn’t want to interrupt the intercourse with his performance.
Xiu Xiu playing “F.T.W.” live at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR on May 29th, 2012:
Xiu Xui’s show lodges somewhere between a performance art and a musical gig. It felt like walking on a high wire where you were constantly oscillating between two polarities – soothing/abrasive, whispering/ear-splitting, suffocating/exhilarating, etc…. so much visceral energy that at times you wanted to explode. And an eruption in itself isn’t necessarily a negative attribute. Whether you embrace or are turned off by Stewart’s arty experimentation, brutally honest lyrics, wailing vocals, and the lack of interaction with the audience, Xiu Xiu won’t bore you with your usual indie concert experience.