Venue: XOYO Support Bands: Zola Jesus, Former Ghosts Date: 01/11/10 On the back of this year's angst titled yet often catchy, Nintendo composed Dear God, I Hate Myself release, Jamie Stewart's Xiu Xiu played to a sold out crowd at East London venue XOYO on Monday night. Alongside current collaborator Angela Seo, who replaced Caralee McElroy in late 2009, the 60 minute set covered an impressive array of a hefty back catalogue of avant-garde, experimental sound-art coupled with terse vocals and rocky emotions. The fact that the set was devoid of interaction between Stewart and the crowd was irrelevant and lent the evening a grand performance quality by which there was no need or desire for interruptions. Of an almost awkward onstage presence when exposed; unable to hide behind an amalgamation of instruments and knick knacks, Stewart shyly yet graciously thanked those gathered; sounding somewhat sweeter and more stable that the evenings yelpings, whisperings, croonings and screams would suggest. Bookended with the more easy listening of Xiu Xiu's compositions, Stewart opened with the superb and vocally captivating "Hyunhye's Theme", which in lacking the intricate intrusions of the album version, exposed him as an accomplished and versatile vocalist, something often missed in Xiu Xiu's characteristic chaotic cacophonies and heavy percussive sounds. From here the set moved from the shuffling awkwardness of this sensitive opener onto sounds more typical of their older styles. Sonically the performance was equally deafening and thunderous; eerie and painful in its honesty. The lighting too, whether purposefully or not added visually to what they as musicians convey through sound. At points the audience saw projected light hit the back wall capturing the shadows of the duo and smartly this was like lightening married to Seo's clattering behind towering percussion and a Korg synth, which she employed throughout the evening to great effect. In covered the entire scope of emotion that his songbook scans, from vulnerable numbers such as "Sad Pony Guerilla Girl", to the snarling set highlight "I Luv the Valley OH", and the disjointed angst of "Fabulous Muscles", the evening proved the duo to be more than a one trick pony or a band with discordant ideas somehow labelled 'genius': where instrumentation matter it excelled and where emotion cut like a knife it did the trick and stung the crowd in silence. Despite a venue that's stiflingly hot, and arguably uncomfortably overcrowded at sell-out; Xiu Xiu's set didn't appear to cause a huge amount of discomfort. Aside from everything that evening running late, and the gaps between the headliner's tracks at the latter part of their set signifying them being rushed off the stage the evening still achieved more pros than cons. With demanding vocals which flit between introspection and aggression; Xiu Xiu are a live epiphany in that they are as challenging as they are enjoyable. Just make sure you tackle them with an open mind.