After opening for Toro y Moi last October at the Music Farm, Classixx took the stage again last Sunday night but were no longer just the opening act. A Los Angeles based duo, Tyler Blake and Michael David began receiving attention in 2009 for their remixes of indie records from bands such as Phoenix, Major Lazer and Holy Ghost! Previously known as Young Americans, they rebranded and began to produce their own original material, sourcing from contemporary and classic samples (hence the new name, with two x’s). Following the release of their first full-length album Hanging Gardens last May, the boys were finally able to headline their own tour for the month of March. Driving all the way from Wisconsin and ending in Montreal, Classixx stopped in the historic city to amuse a small and loyal crowd.
The night opened with GEMS, another duo from Washington, D.C. consisting of Lindsay Pitts and Clifford Usher. Formed in 2012, the two had stuck together after graduating college and explored a music career under the pseudonym ‘Birdlips.’ Deciding to deviate from playful folk with a ukulele and acoustic guitar, to a darker chill-wave dream pop, the two have found success with their new name and four-track EP, Medusa. Lindsay’s soft voice is reminiscent of ‘90s ballads that, when paired with their wardrobe and stage presence, adds a grungy edge to an underlying surfer vibe. They ended with one of the most well-known tracks they have out from the EP, which shares the same title name. GEMS would suit anyone who’s a fan of St. Lucia or Broods and, if interested, you can check out their Soundcloud here.
Once Lindsay and Clifford had moved off stage, an enormous old school television was revealed to display the iconic running men symbol that’s Hanging Gardens artwork. The two best friends since middle school stepped up onto opposite sides of the stage, Michael holding an electric guitar and Tyler hovering over a keyboard. They kicked off the show with records such as “Holding On,” “I’ll Get You,” and “All You’re Waiting For,” then continued to keep a steady rhythm throughout the show, allowing the beat to rise and fall in an easy cadence. It was obvious the duo had a clear sense of the crowd’s mood and knew exactly how to match their music.
In an interview with Pitchfork.tv, Tyler and Michael admitted that they don’t drink when playing live music as “it’s a little more dangerous.” Dangerous, as in the risk of making mistakes is greater when including instruments than whenever they’re just putting on a DJ set. They also asserted that at a Classixx show, one should expect to hear their music and their music only. Sunday night was a perfect example of this description, as the duo performed “slightly stripped down” tracks off their full-length album and the well-known remixes which brought them their initial attention. Halfway through their set, they did change up their flow by bringing Lindsay Pitts from GEMS back on stage to lend her voice on “Stranger Love”, initially recorded with Sarah Chernoff.
In the same interview, the duo spoke about how they’re prone to take things slowly, explaining how they began speculating a full-length album in 2007 but finally recorded and released Hanging Gardens in 2013. Nonetheless, they’ve been able to remain relevant and are slowly gathering a stronger following. If going slow means more amazing original work and creative remixes from Michael and Tyler, then I’d say they should keep avoiding the rush. After all, the world around them is moving fast enough as it is.
If you missed Classixx on Sunday, then you may be able to catch them this summer as they play a few more shows including being a part of the line-up at Governor’s Ball in New York City. Until you get a chance to see them live, you can download some of their most recent records on their site, here.