Awesome stuff happens quickly these days. So when I got a message yesterday afternoon inviting me to go to the sold out xx, Warpaint, and Zola Jesus show at 9:30 Club last night, I jumped at the chance. I’d heard some buzz about Zola Jesus and how they were a band to watch as time goes on, I saw Warpaint at Ottobar in August and was incredibly impressed with them, and I saw the xx at Sasquatch in May and thought they put on a solid show, but it didn’t quite resonate with me like I thought it would.
We got to the show just in time for Zola Jesus, who had what could be termed an alt set up. Three dudes standing at synthesizers plus a live drummer and a lead singer engulfed in a black robe. Nika Rosa Danilova started the set wearing a full hood and singing into the microphone before removing the hood after the first song to reveal herself to the crowd. The band was well-received by the crowd and I spent the whole time just utterly entranced with Danilova’s voice and the melodies emerging from the band. The only way I could think of describing it was “devastatingly beautiful.”
Of course, Zola Jesus’ set was another from a band that I had barely heard before and knew no songs of. So I just had to make do with what I heard, but I was engrossed and loved it. Pitchfork has the opener for the band’s newest EP, Valusia, due out October 12 on Sacred Bones. I can’t tell if they played “Poor Animal” last night, but I am still digging this jam so much.
Next up was Warpaint. I’d already mentioned seeing them at Ottobar in August with Beach Fossils and Javelin and the band has recently dropped the “Undertow” single, making me even more excited their set. And they killed. It was purely amazing. The voices harmonized perfectly and cut through the air along with the sick drumming and driving bass riffs. It was an extremely special thing to see and the crowd loved them.
The highlight of the set was the third and fourth songs, the first of which is a new one from their October 26 full-length debut The Fool called “Composure” and then “Undertow.” Those songs are perfect. In addition, the fact that nearly every song turned into a jam session did not irk me one bit because the jams were executed perfectly. Warpaint. Check them out and keep an eye out.
And finally what the sold out crowd had come for. the xx. I’d experienced them at 5:30 in the evening on the Sunday of Sasquatch at a packed Bigfoot stage. The set was exactly what I’d expected: crisp, clean, and concise. The cuts sounded exactly how they did on the album. But there were so many people and I was absolutely exhausted from the first night of Sasquatch so I felt like I didn’t enjoy it as much as I potentially could have.
Fast forward to last night. An X of fluorescent lights backed the three members, still dressed in all black.The band came out and went through their set, nailing tracks like “Intro,” “Crystalised,” “Basic Space,” and “Islands.” There were a few thrown in there that I didn’t recognize from the album, but everything they played was solid. The guitar melodies are soaring and gorgeous and it filled the space wonderfully.
I was tired from a late night of studying on Monday night so the emptiness and space in some of the songs got to me, making me feel a little bored, but everyone else was having an awesome time. Even the really tall bro that decided to barge in and stand right in front of me with his really short girlfriend in between Warpaint and the xx’s sets.
The only major qualm I had (and it isn’t even that major because I like my hearing) is that there was not as much bass as I would have expected from this group. On “Intro,” I was expecting to have my innards shaken as soon as the drums and bass came in, but it was noticeably absent. There were times when it rose to uncomfortable levels, but that was only twice during the set. Having lost all my ear plugs at FreeFest, this was a bit of a godsend as I can still hear today. But still, it definitely could have enhanced the experience.
Overall, Warpaint was amazing, Zola Jesus was impressive, and the xx was solid. The show justified its sold out status and provided a highlight for my first how of October.