On one of those Friday evenings that make you not only like, but love New York City, we headed down to the Seaport for one of those outdoor concerts that make people wistful, either because they are good or because they are free. South Street Seaport is usually full of the worst concoction of tourists, bankers and people who simply crave a manufactured historical experience. We know one good kid who likes it down there, but we're friends with him so it doesn't count.
For The XX and School of Seven Bells the surrounding dynamic stayed the same; into which was inserted a pocket of those serious-faced hipsters who are either too young to knowingly be ironic or too old to do anything besides be knowingly ironic. It was an awkward mix and if you were sitting on the patio on the second floor of Pizzeria Uno, you could be forgiven for looking down, listening and wondering, "what the hell was that?"
The XX are dressed almost identically; black pants, loose black shirts of one variety or another, and black shoes. This is the kind of band that should never play in daylight. This band should maybe never play outside. There is a natural claustrophobia to their music that is best suited to low-ceiling clubs sometime after curfew. Granted, they sound incredible live and loud, something that is hard to get a feel for on their album. It is mood music, to be sure, but the mood is a dark one. They are gracious, if tautly unenergetic. It could be the pants.
School of Seven Bells slide to the stage with the knowing comment, "We're just going to wait for it to get dark." They sound great, with packaged instruments and drums blared out over keys and two thrashing guitars. I immediately regret not going to see them when their publicist sent me emails with subject lines like, "You should really catch this band." We are, perhaps, a little over-stimulated but sonically, the band is just right, with a spacious and driving sound. Five blocks away, you can still hear them on a roof top. And in the summer, this is exactly what we're looking for.
Listen :: School of Seven Bells - "Half Asleep"
Bonus :: The XX - "Crystalised"