The xx – A Sort of Homecoming

Photo credit: O2 Academy, Brixton

The xx presents Night + Day, Various venues, Brixton, London

It started by announcing three homecoming shows in Brixton Academy. It mushroomed into seven, setting a new box office record for the iconic south London venue that famously hosted the last ever live appearance from the Smiths, plus countless historic nights over the years.

The xx decided to go the extra mile with different supports each night. They chose an eclectic and exciting cast with Floating Points, Sampha, Cat Power, Giles Peterson and many, many more. A series of after party announcements, film screenings and talks followed, and a radio collaboration with Reprezent, London’s only youth station staffed entirely by under 25s.

It hit you as soon you got off the tube. The xx had booked all the ad spaces on each side of the escalator, festooning the station with their silver event posters. They opened their own pop-up shop in Pop Brixton adjacent to Reprezent. I can’t think of another band or act who have taken over an entire area so thoroughly and effectively.

“When we first decided to do the residency at Brixton Academy, we had no idea just how these shows would evolve into so much more,” they wrote on Instagram. “Night + Day is such personal project to us, and knowing that we can affect some change in our home town of London and local south London area is an amazing feeling.”

A portion of the proceeds were donated to six Brixton based charities, namely the Baytree Centre, the Marcus Lipton Community Enterprise, Photofusion, Raw Material, Spiral and 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.

Olive from the Baytree Centre, who are a charity empowering women and girls through education and skills development programmes, praised The xx.

“It is really inspiring for the women and girls who come here to see a local band who are still connected to their south London roots and want to make a positive impact in their community,” she says. “It really reinforces the things we teach here.”

Miranda Sawyer wrote a great radio column in last Sunday’s Observer about Reprezent, which grew out of a local radio project. In addition to blooding presenters from disadvantaged backgrounds, if you look at the long list for the BBC Sound of 2017 poll, half the artists came through Reprezent, and Stormzy gave his first radio interview to the station in 2014.

In addition to penning this very informative piece, Sawyer was a guest on the station last week, as was Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow, Kieran Yates, who is a freelance writer on music and politics and co-author of Generation Vexed, Warpaint, Jehnny Beth from Savages, Gilles Peterson, and of course, The xx themselves. It proved just how powerful and positive sharing ideas, enthusiasm and passion can be.

And of course, the music was pretty special, too. I went to The xx on Saturday night. The main set climaxed with Robyn and the band performing her hit ‘With Every Heartbeat’ and a monumental version of ‘Loud Places’ by Jamie xx. You can watch the Robyn collaboration here:

On Sunday, Jamie xx played a day rave from 2pm to 8pm with all proceeds going to the aforementioned charities. The atmosphere was fantastic. Jamie very deftly mixed ‘Blue Monday’ into some cutting edge techno and again, his own tune ‘Loud Places’ featured as the day’s closing anthem.

Night + Day finishes tomorrow after The xx play with the London Contemporary Orchestra tonight, and Floating Points and Gilles Peterson tomorrow. Reprezent radio continues its special xx week until Wednesday, but can always be found and enjoyed here.

It was incredibly inspiring to take in a weekend of Night + Day. It was a wonderful way to mark the arrival of Spring, and it also goes to show that the festival season seems to start earlier and earlier each year.

I hope The xx continue to raise the bar for festivals and event programming. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, you have to tip your hat to them after Night + Day. The next series of events will be held in Iceland.

Bravo Romy, Oliver and Jamie. Until next time xx

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