South Korea. Busan. Concluding the Basement’s recent trio of eclectic and multiform bands are Xiu Xiu. Straight from San Jose, California and fronted by Jamie Stewart and collaboraters Angela Seo and Ches Smith, Xiu Xiu are possibly the biggest act to take centre stage in Busan over the last few years.
With a mix of edgy, anxious emotion, but also keeping to a foundational pop sensibility, Xia Xia manage to create gripping pieces of music that could be classified under punk, 80’s electro, modern classical, techno and under some brackets of folk.
Having formed the band back in 2000, Stewart set out to create melodic and confrontational noise music, an underground non-conformist genre that seemed to rebel and spit in the face of most of the music of the time. Listening to Stewart’s haunting and troubled voice you can hear echoes of the Joy Division’s late singer – Ian Curtis with that hardened, hollow voice which shivers up spines and vibrates against your fillings.
Their debut album Knife Play was reviewed by pitchfork.com in 2002, quote:
‘A profusion of all things twisted, wrecked, corrupt and sour and terrified. All I want to do is dive in and roll around in its richness.’
After seven studio albums they have found a more rounded sound, but without taking out any of the bloodshed and anarchy that was so prominent in their earlier albums. Their latest album, Dear God, I Hate Myself, released in Feb 2010 saw Stewart pair up with Caralee McElroy and her ghostly voice that lurks and springs about whilst Stewart preaches and prophesies adds another level especially on the album title track. With this seventh album constant followers of the band will be pleased to know that the majority of lyrics focus on such light-hearted subjects as death, suicide, AIDS as well as famine, homosexuality and deprivation. It’s like a terrifying nightmare you want to turn away, but secretly there is something lurking underneath that pushes you to go a little further.
This is Xiu Xiu’s first night in Korea. They will be heading to Daegu and to Seoul, thereafter continuing their world tour on to Eastern Europe.
Tickets for the event are 20,000 and can be picked up at either Blowfish in Songjeong or at the Basement in PNU. There are 1000 tickets available, but as this is the biggest band to hit Busan in a long while it’s worth getting your act together and getting it sorted.