To paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, we can't tell you what psychodrama is (never fear, Wikipedia can: "In psychodrama, participants explore internal conflicts through acting out their emotions and interpersonal interactions on stage."), but we know it when we see it. And we saw it Wednesday night when Oakland, Calif.-based indie trio Xiu Xiu passionately delivered a set of its beautiful, harrowing, exploding noise-pop at Boston's Paradise Rock Club. Beyond its truly exceptional cover of Joy Division's wonderful guitar anthem "Ceremony" and several tracks culled from blogs, we aren't overly familiar with Xiu Xiu's repertoire. But Xiu Xiu's performance was quite literally spectacular (that is, "dramatically daring and thrilling"), so the set was very satisfying to behold even for a basically uninformed fan.
Mr. Stewart's group is currently completed by Caralee McElroy on harmonium, melodica and percussion and Ches Smith on drums and percussion. As the set progressed Mr. Smith's performance in particular became increasingly intense, and he often rose from his drum stool and assisted the exorcism of Stewart's (seemingly myriad and deadly serious) demons by slamming a series of cymbals. But it was nearly impossible to look away from Stewart, whose theatrical tenor readily careened between a mournful murmur and a full-throated condemnation. McElroy, by contrast, cooly switched among her instruments and offered lead and backing vocals in an understated manner. We were pleased to hear "I Do What I Want, When I Want" from Xiu Xiu's most recent set Women As Lovers, which was released by Kill Rock Stars in January. The Urban Legend, our connect for a much-appreciated guest list spot, was particularly jazzed by a re-worked version of "Fabulous Muscles."
Xiu Xiu had just been in Boston in May, and that proximity may have precipitated the relatively light turn-out last night. Even so, the floor in front of the stage was filled with scores of solemn, angular-haired fans. You can look at a few additional pictures we took during the show right here. Xiu Xiu's tour continues tonight at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. The remaining two weeks of tour dates are posted below. Finally, because it is one of our favorites, we're posting the aforementioned cover of "Ceremony" below (which we found at this Spoilt Victorian Child post back in the day).
Xiu Xiu --
[right click and save as]
[buy Xiu Xiu records from Newbury Comics right here]
Xiu Xiu: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr
08/28 -- Bowery Ballroom -- New York, New York
08/29 -- Garfield Artworks -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
08/30 -- Milo -- Columbus, Ohio
09/01 -- Grog Shop -- Cleveland, Ohio
09/02 -- Crofoot Ballroom -- Pontiac, Michigan
09/03 -- Bottom Lounge -- Chicago, Illinois
09/04 -- House Cafe -- Dekalb, Illinois
09/05 -- High Noon Saloon -- Madison, Wisconsin
09/06 -- Triple Rock Social Club -- minneapolis, Minnesota
09/07 -- Aquarium -- Fargo, North Dakota
09/10 -- Chop Suey -- Seattle, Washington
09/11 -- Backspace -- Portland, Oregon
09/13 -- Bottom Of The Hill -- San Francisco, California