Stop everything you are doing and go see Jamie xx
I saw Jamie xx live at Parklife for the first time. I almost had a heart attack when I saw him in flesh. I wouldn’t say that Parklife is the best thing that happened to festivals, but his performance made every interaction with gurning-off-their-faces people worth the trip to Heaton Park.
He lurked behind the decks for about five minutes before he came on stage. His very presence was a tease; the crowd had been gathering for half an hour in anticipation. Muffled by the generic tunes that fill the gap between acts, excited chatter was buzzing everywhere. And then the lights went out.
Jamie xx walked to the decks; his reserved wave the complete antithesis to the deafening cheers. He put down his leather vinyl bag behind the exact middle of the decks. As he took out the first vinyl, he left a sleeve sticking out of the bag, right in front of the giant disco ball – the only prop on stage.
The white lights started shining, and he dropped I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times). As many will note, he might have been trying to get it out of the way. I am not the biggest fan of the song, but he managed to layer it in a way that Young Thug’s wails were barely noticeable. The instrumentals shone through, and the crowd was already taken by the music. Whilst turning the knobs and doing his magic, he took off his black jacket and rolled up his sleeves.
I felt like he was welcoming us to his perfectly coordinated living room, only to take us by the hand and reveal to us all the things about music we don’t even know that we don’t know. What happened next was disco. Old-school, get-on-your-feet disco that had me forgetting the eight hours of dancing and trudging through mud that had preceded.
He managed to turn a tent into a discotheque, you couldn’t help but sway to the beat. Best of all, the rich instrumentals and ever-present basslines serve as the perfect juxtaposition to Jamie xx’s music. He refrained from making the set an playlist of his tunes. Instead he created a set that highlighted his musical talent.
His rare understanding of minuscule details is what allows him to create such coherent mixes. He can hear shades of a song that us mortals don’t even know are there, and that’s why he can surprise an audience. This is apparent in songs like Obvs, where he changes the tonality of the melody with the smallest possible change in the actual melody. There is a distinct essence of nostalgia in In Colour, which he forges with the xylophone-like tint he, dare I say, has invented.
Oh the things that happened to my brain when he dropped Sleep Sound. It happened at the beginning of the set, and the lights shone purple on the disco ball, reflecting in all directions. It was pure euphoria, the kind I first got when listening to Britney’s Oops I did it again when I was 12.
I thought the set was over when he played Gosh, but thankfully he had Loud Places in store for us. Throughout his set, coloured lights gradually changed in sync with the music. Towards the end of Gosh, all the colours of In Colour emerged. It was an intensely visual experience, but at no point did the visual element distract from the music.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Jamie xx is the most amazing DJ I have ever seen live and he mixes, very literally, like no one else.
Photo from Parklife.co.com