Xiu Xiu / The Dead Science / Yip-Yip
dec 3, 2005
The Skate Park of Tampa, Florida


The last time Xiu Xiu played Tampa it was at the Orpheum in Ybor City. For you non-Central Floridians, Ybor is “get crunk in da club” central. This being the case, a midnight curfew has recently been instated on everyone younger than 18. This has nothing to me, but seeing how a lot of the bands that play through here draw younger crowds, they have to play earlier shows now…in Ybor that is. SO what I’m trying to say…is that last time Xiu Xiu played, their show was cut waaay short and they didn’t even play that long. It was an amazing show, of course, but short. Jamie Stewart is a clever fellow so he decided NOT to play Ybor this time around. Too bad the skate park had crappy sound.  

I arrive at the show! And a million kids are standing outside. I wonder, “Why are they standing outside? There is music playing...hmmm.” I walk in and the band Yip-Yip from Orlando is playing. Last time I saw them they opened for An Albatross and the bass they were pumping out was incredible. Yip Yip is too skinny guys that dress in weird costumes and play electronic music with mostly analog synthesizers and drum machines. When I saw them the first time, like I said, it was really heavy and smooth. Since that show they have gone through two different sets of costumes and toured most of the United States, and it shows. But how does it show? Wellll, they are rock stars now, you dig? Because they rely so heavily on a good sound system for all of their electronic beats, they sounded kind of flat through the skate park’s tiny speakers. It was when I realized all of this that I walked outside to talk to my friends.  

Next up was the Dead Science. I had no idea who this band was or what to expect from them. Turns out that the Dead Science is three weird guys from Seattle, Washington. The guitarist and bassist were wearing “semi-fashionable” dress pants and dress shoes with greasy-slick hair. During the sound-check the singer sang “Toxicity” by System of a Down in a heavily effected falsetto that really confused the crowd. When it was time for them to start, the guitarist made a comment about how “Whoever put that sticker on Xiu Xiu’s van is fucking stupid and that’s not cool.” Then they began to play their music. If you, the reader, want to know what they sound like, just listen to their music off of Insound or something. But as far as how they LOOK when they play, I can help you out with that. The first thing is that the drummer is amazing. Like… “What the fuck!? This guy is so good!” You wouldn’t think it though, because he plays like he is retarded. Seriously. He has this really confused look on his face where his brow furrows and he bites his lip or bites his tongue. He rocks back and forth on the drum throne and kind of…throws his arms at the drums. Like he’s retarded. The bassist played electric and upright bass (as do I, so I noticed that he plays with a German bow instead of a French, as if you care) and is actually pretty good. His intonation was excellent and he did avant-garde techniques like scraping and pulling the strings through effects pedals to make some really cool moods for the singer/guitarist that sang every song exactly the same and exactly like the sound check. In a couple songs he screamed through his clenched teeth and it was pretty sweet. So ended the Dead Science. 

You, the reader, have no idea how many kids were walking around talking about “being so stoaked to see Zoo Zoo. Their best record is tooooottally Fabulous Muscles.” But I, the show attendee, do, and it was a lot. I heard that Xiu Xiu was touring as a three piece, but that must have been last tour because it was just Jamie Stewart and Caralee this time around, which was still fantastic. Because of all of the acoustic instruments they use (harmonium, bells, snare drum, more bells, cymbals, and more bells) it took quite a while for the novice, skate park soundman to set up all of the microphones.  Right as people began to loose patience, everything fell into place and it was time for the show to start. They started the show off with a slowed-down version of “Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl.” It was just electric guitar, some sparse keyboards and vocals. After a verse and a half via Jamie Stewart, Caralee sang the last two choruses in an adorable and accented voice. You, the reader, should have seen how hot she was plugging her ears and saying “neighborhood” the way she does. Ahhh…Caraleee….ANYWAYS! The rest of their set consisted of an album-spanning assortment of tunes including “I Luv the Valley”, “Brian the Vampire”, “Muppet Face” and other hits. I was amazed to see how focused Jamie Stewart is when he plays the bells and snare drum. His gaze never leaves the drum and he only looks up to quickly hit a cymbal. A couple times he was drumming so hard that I thought a stick was going to fly out and hit someone, which it nearly did when he threw them to grab his guitar in the middle of a song. It was a great show and the crowd was screaming for an encore…. which didn’t happen. After people refused to leave, Caralee returned to the stage (to loud cheers) only to tell everyone “Goodnight and thank you!” Aw, come on Xiu Xiu.

-Scott Moore

/february 2006/