College Music Journal hosts a music festival every year, a week-long series of shows spanning much of downtown Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge in Williamsburg. CMJ has grown over the years and it was a surprise to me when news hit the interwebs that Love X Stereo’s first North American tour would coincide with the indie music showcase (but after that sentence, not so much).
Love X Stereo, a synth-rock outfit, played at SBD Gallery in the St Mark’s area as part of a music and arts show called “Korea Remix for CMJ”, hosted by KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency). Having discovered the band earlier this year and enjoying their music, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to their live show in my backyard, and they did not disappoint.
Playing a mix of old and new from their catalogue, LXS brought their mix of pounding energy in tracks like “부끄러워요” and “High Road,” and the thoughtfulness of “Lose to Win” and “Chain Reaction.” What I loved was Annie, whose voice can be just as loud as the guys’ instruments near the end of “Seoul City,” while still shy in their most overt song, “Free Ass.” For that song, instead of recreating the come hither tone of the recording, she sang parts of the second verse in a whisper, playing up what isn’t mentioned, but alluded to.
Another was Koo Kyoseon’s power on the drums. His drumming plays in contrast to Annie’s smooth delivery, one that’s frantic and urgent, creating a starker balance not heard in the recordings. It was decisions like those that made the show more than just recordings played live, but something interesting to witness.
Love X Stereo is more than just a group of recording artists, but performers that can put on a show. They made the small stage work and got the crowd grooving along. The band is still around in North America, just recently announcing their participation in next year’s South X Southwest music festival in Austin, TX, so if you get a chance, take it.