Xiu Xiu – Debaser Slussen, November 6th 2010

This is a guest review written by one of our many fellow music lovers. Check out more of her work at Clap Clap Colour.

On Saturday a nice crowd of about a hundred people showed up at Debaser Slussen in Stockholm to attend a show of three similar yet very different sounding musical acts. I guess this means everyone who was not going to Einstürzende Neubauten at Södra Theatern the same evening. And were those people in for a treat.

First act of the evening was Former Ghosts, one man project by Freddy Ruppert, featuring collaborations with Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu and Nika Roza Danilova aka Zola Jesus. You really had to be prepared for what was coming to enjoy it to the greatest extent, because Freddy was performing with such emotional intensity that it’s kind of hard to get into the music. Freddy, dripping with sweat, was really giving everything he had, reaching for the bottom of his soul to spit his heartaches out into the microphone. Though the beat and the mainly distorted synths formed the backbone of the music together with the heartbreaking lyrics, there was still room for experimentation with different sounds throughout. Highlights of the Former Ghosts performance were first song “The Days Will Get Long Again” with Freddy histerically beating on a floor tom, supported by Jamie Stewart on guitar and also the amazing song “Chin Up”, for which Nika Roza Danilova came on stage to lend her vocals.


Former Ghosts

The next act to go up was who I really wanted to see that evening, namely Zola Jesus. Only 21 years old, Nika Roza Danilova has already released an awful lot of material in the past two years, including singles, EP’s and LP’s as Zola Jesus and a noisy collaborative record with LA Vampires. She is without any doubt one of the artists to watch in the future.

What we got to see was a small, fragile looking woman, nervously walking around the stage while singing with an immensely powerful voice, the result of eight years of opera training. Unlike her tour in the US she didn’t bring anyone to back her up with synthesizers or drum pads and triggered off the music to each song herself with a little box on the stage floor. Things both positive and negative can be said about this, the negative being that it sounded too similar to the record, the positive being that the everyone in the concert room could concentrate all their attention to her voice. As expected, Zola Jesus only performed songs from her Stridulum II album (apart from the Poor Animal single), which is a pity in my opinion, because the more lo-fi and noisy music she made for her albums The Spoils and New Amsterdam is also brilliant.

Her performance of newest song “Poor Animal” was my personal highlight of the show, with Zola Jesus raising her hands while wailing “I am not your saviour. Save me please”, with blinding white spots shining from behind her, making her a dark shape with a halo of light. Another great moment occurred after the second song, when she demonstrated her soprano voice, right before going over into a horrible high-pitched scream that went straight to the marrow of your bones.


Zola Jesus

Headliner of the evening’s concert was Xiu Xiu, consisting of frontman Jamie Stewart, supported by a young woman who had already appeared on stage to do some synths and guitar to a couple of Zola Jesus’ songs. As with the Former Ghosts performance there was a lot of energy and a lot of sweat. They definitely were very creative with using different sounds for their songs, using harmonica in one song and a football/soccer game whistle in another. This variation in rhythm and sound was really energizing, but they did well in putting a couple of slow balad-like songs in between their crazy stuff to give themselves a chance to breathe.


Xiu Xiu

Everyone attending the concert got to see three very passionate people, really giving all the energy they had, performing music that’s really honest. All three acts had fans showing up particularly for them, but the number of fans was biggest for Xiu Xiu since they have been rotating in the music industry for about a decade now. I don’t think that anyone left the concert without having their expectations lived up to.

For your information: Former Ghosts recently released a new album called New Love, Zola Jesus will very soon be releasing her Poor Animal single in Europe on Souterrain Transmissions (release was set for November 1st but it seems to be delayed) and Xiu Xiu released the album Dear God, I Hate Myself on Kill Rock Stars early this year.

Images courtesy of OllEriksson.com



About author

Stephan FSM 154 posts

Stephan was born in the country of cheese, tulips and interesting pills. Decided to move to the 3rd music producing country in the world (known for IKEA, ABBA and blond women). He wears a card, it says photographer...

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