Jamie xx – Royale, Boston, MA 8/9/15 (SHOW REVIEW)

Jamie xx just might be the single most tasteful DJ of the 21st Century and his sold out performance at Boston’s Royale night club made it obvious why. xx (born Jamie Smith) was the production wheel on British electro-pop trio The xx and after two albums he dropped his first  original solo studio album, In Colour, this past Spring and it’s made him a powerhouse in his own right.

In an era where DJs try and establish themselves by winning the latest round in the nonstop arms war of set production, xx took the stage utilizing the same setup as his warm up act, underneath nothing but a disco ball, a few spot lights and a hand full of strobes. As for his production method, he clearly disregarded Deadmau5’s method of bringing an army of synthesizers and where producers like Skrillex have made millions off of fax machine sound effects, xx kept things soulful, mixing the entire set on two turn tables and two Pioneer CDJs. It’s impossible to tell how much of the set was mixed on the fly versus preset, but throughout his 90-minute performance, he kept swapping out the records for fresher plates of wax he kept side stage in a pair of milk crates.

While the vocal and bass in his tracks tended to keep to a slow, throbbing pace, the mix placed a great deal of emphasis on the percussion tracks, which in light of his roll augmenting a guitarist and bassist in The xx, makes perfect sense. Concert goers used to a live band were bound to be disappointed because xx, like every other DJ on the road, isn’t about live creation as much as live production. The spectacle of one kid alone on a stage mixing isn’t within a mile as compelling as watching a quartet with their amps cranked up trading solos. That said, for dance music enthusiasts who came with the right expectations, this might have been the show of the summer.

This event sold out so fast, it got bumped up to Royal after it was clear The Sinclair wasn’t going to meet market demand, and even Royal’s 775-capacity came up short. xx didn’t address his audience once during his 90-minute set but kept his enthusiastic fans on their toes from start to finish. Jamie xx showed the kids in the crowd that million dollar stage setups and anticipatory bass-drops aren’t a necessity to play the game, and by doing so, he’s actively reinventing it.

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