In the midst of an equally Holy and Patriotic weekend in April, I ran to the Elks Hardcore Stadium on Saturday for refuge & for San Jose California’s Xiu Xiu, of course. Xiu Xiu, Jamie Stewart’s brain child was headlining as part of a very special Boston Hassle Show where the two openers, both Sidney Gish & Funeral Advantage, set the stage perfectly for Stewart’s eclectic & brash brand of electronic music.
Tyler Kershaw’s Funeral Advantage kicked off the show with songs rife with gloomy backing tracks & melodic dream pop laced with melancholy. Kershaw, dressed in all black, gave a special shout out to Xiu Xiu, saying ‘anyone who knows me, knows how how unbelievably excited I am to be playing tonight’ then dove right back into his set filled with fast stops and kick-ass breakdowns. Funeral Advantage, much like their music, come masked with a dark aesthetic. Their newest release ‘Please Help Me’ a six-song EP is beautiful in its atmosphere of urgent euphoria and reflection whose songs deal openly with a break up experienced by Kershaw. Signed to The Native Sound in NYC, yet Boston based, this is a band I will watch for in the coming years.
Boston’s Sidney Gish took to the stage to a getting-packed Elks lodge. First dates chatting, friends cackling, denim jackets in abundance as Gish invents songs of her own wit, experience and real life words and rhythms. Her songs, as inviting as they are embarrassing toy with the troubles of growing up in suburbia. Gish’s glee and innocence as she embodies her love of performance is apparent. Guitar loops interspersed with sometimes hilarious, often cutting lyrics; both her and Funeral Advantage are a part of a new, quickly unfurling independent and underground music scene in Boston.
After chatting with friends old and new, all enraptured in the childlike glee of seeing Xiu Xiu, the floorboards of the ye old Elks Lodge chattered and the crowd upstairs erupted. We arrive at Jamie Stewart in all black with a black guitar, mysterious yet stern. The stage was enshrouded with cymbals, drums and tables of synths and small instruments littered around. Xiu Xiu, caught within the idiosyncrasy of their instrumentation, explode with sound and eccentricity, bewildering, as it is groovy and ethereal. Staring out to the crowd there was a welcoming openness and embrace seldom found at larger venues and in the presence of more commercial acts. Stewart, dripping with sweat, fed off the energy in the room, though still remaining true to his character and reflexive gyrations and spasmodic dancing. The lines of poetry, visual performance, & instrumentation blur into a style unique in its complexity yet unified in a collective group disillusionment and parody. Playing songs old and new, they finished the set with a one song encore. Xiu Xiu, as mythic as they are, carry the true weight of the personal battlefields into a thought provoking dizzying array of energy, unparalleled and cleansing for days afterwards.