The xx and Grizzly Bear fill the Fillmore with sexual tension, powerful sets

By Paige Pfleger , Daily Arts Writer
Published June 13, 2013

Upon hearing the words the xx, Grizzly Bear and the Fillmore in conjunction, I immediately pulled out my wallet. Could anything be more atmospherically phenomenal than those things put together? Answer: no.

Flash forward to Wednesday, June 12th. The inside of the Fillmore glowed ominously red like the inside of the belly of a beast, and clothing from Urban, grotsky mustaches, the occasional wasted 50-year-old, a lot of tank tops and cut-off jean shorts spot the audience. No one was surprised.

Grizzly Bear took the stage. Something about their illuminated glass jugs that seemed to rise from the floor made the stage look underwater, or in a cave full of stalagmites — all confusing but exciting. I was pleasantly surprised by the Griz’s set — I hadn’t been an avid fan, mostly because I felt they were best suited as background music, but something about the combination of the vocal harmonies, the ambiance of the stage, the boxy jaw of bassist Chris Taylor or singer Edward Droste’s Adam Brody-meets-Adrien Brody-meets-hard-drugs look, had me entirely enthralled. Grizzly Bear thanked us as an audience approximately 13 times, which felt awkward in the most endearing way, before departing from the stage.

The first and most important thing I have to say about the xx is that they sounded like sex. Everything about them, in the strangest way, dripped sexuality and made me so wildly uncomfortable yet enchanted that I never wanted it to end. There is something to say for the simplicity the xx practices. Their set, black and barren, and the members nearly identical in wardrobe as well as haircut (props to Romy Madley-Croft for killing it in the androgyny game and matching the prowess of her male bandmates) boasted an effortless perfection. Their black outfits, complete with the most tasteful elbow cutouts that I’ve ever seen, reminded the audience that the xx is about the minimal music and the atmosphere, instead of trying to impress the audience with sheer looks — yet another reason that I was so confused about being so attracted to the singing duo. There was just something about their sleepy vocals, Oliver Sim’s deep voice and the way he draped the mic chord around his neck during “Fiction” like it was a towel and he had just gotten out of the shower (How did I take it there? I can’t explain) that gave me chills.

At a few points during the show, Madley-Croft and Sim met in the middle of the stage, face-to-face, swaying toward each other woozily, and I felt as though I was watching a strange intoxicating bird-like mating ritual. “YOU’RE HOT!” a mustachioed man yelled, as one trendy 15-year-old with black raccoon-eyed makeup turned to her friend and asked, “Are they having sex? They have to be having sex. Just look at them!” In the background, Jamie xx loomed over the two singers, being the musical mastermind that he is, as though he were a puppeteer, pulling Sim and Madley-Croft’s strings.

Despite the harassments from one drunken tank-topped man (shout out to you, you terrible tank-topped creature), the xx seemed extremely excited to be in Detroit, explaining to the audience in the most beautiful accents I have ever heard how grateful they were to be in our city for the very first time. “Thank you all for bringing us here,” Romy crooned as the audience swooned. They honestly could have just stood there and spoken to us all night, they were so mesmerizing.

Every penny spent on the concert was returned to the audience with each perfectly awkward moment, each slow, English drawl, each graveled atmospheric riff, each unnecessary thank you (you’re welcome, you perfect human specimens) and carefully executed electronic throbbing. Grizzly Bear and the xx make a beautifully odd couple.