Published Apr 06, 2010Let's face it: dancing is overrated. Or at least that was the impression made by the crowd at the XX, JJ and Nosaj Thing's Toronto tour stop. With three sets by artists who are defined by their respective brands of downtempo, moody minimalism, and a crowd of mostly couples, it was no wonder that a subtle sway — instead of a dance step — took hold of the audience.
L.A.-based Nosaj Thing (née Jason Chung) kept his set simple. With a single spotlight illuminating his DJ space, he played a short mix of tracks from last year's Drift LP, bopping behind his equipment. In person, you're struck not only by Chung's youth and his ability to make his work look easy, but also by his well-mannered and professional demeanour. With little to no interaction with the crowd, he performed a sharp and methodical set, deservedly gaining a few cheers with his finale track, "Aquarium."
Sweden's elusive JJ, on the other hand, lacked Nosaj Thing's professionalism, although not his intrigue. Unkempt lead singer Elin Kastlander took to the stage alone initially, with nothing but an acoustic guitar as accompaniment, and proceeded to envelope the crowd with her impressively airy vocal chops during her Lil Wayne appropriation, "Ecstasy." Still, when her accomplice Joakim Benon finally arrived on stage to join her, it became clear that the incidences of substance abuse alluded to in JJ's lyrics are factual.
Waltzing about the stage erratically, playing guitar at seemingly arbitrary moments, Brenon attempted to make out with his band-mate, who immediately refused. Defeated, he darted off-stage for a smoke break. This kind of behaviour continued throughout the show, with Brenon coming and going as he pleased, while dancing maniacally. Kastlander seemed unfazed by this behaviour, and unerringly performed the rest of the band's ethereal lo-fi set, with the nonchalance of a marijuana smoker.
Following JJ's confusing set came the pristine performance by London's the XX, whose quick rise to fame and subsequent touring experience is immediately apparent in their live show. Performing mega hits like "Islands" and "Crystalized," they projected an aura of romance. Oh, and if you closed your eyes, they sounded exactly the same as they do on the record.