Clan of Xymox has been making popular gloomy synth-pop music since the ’80s and has been garnering a cult following within the dark-wave and goth rock scene ever since.
The Dutch band was founded and led by the ever-youthful Ronny Mooring in 1981 and is ranked among the likes of other post-punk and synth-wave heavy-hitters such as Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division, The Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance.
Xymox has released two hit-albums, “Clan of Xymox” and “Medusa” from the independent UK label 4AD, which currently has a roster that includes artists like Ariel Pink, Grimes, Atlas Sound, Deerhunter, Sohn and Future Islands.
When the band announced their U.S. tour with only three concert dates that were all in California, it was no surprise that the tickets were selling out quickly.
Xymox kicked off the California tour in San Francisco before descending to the warmer climes of Los Angeles for the last two performances, both at the Complex LA in Glendale.
Their third and final show fell on a Sunday and from the outside, one wouldn’t have thought something significant was about to happen behind the nondescript doors of the venue.
Once inside, haze from fog machines casted a sort of spell over the room, greeting all who entered the packed space with the comforting familiarity of typical LA bar-venues.
The crowd appeared to be mostly middle-aged, but there were some younger-looking attendees as well. Black clothing seemed to be the unifier between the younger and older generations.
The opening act, Them Are Us Too, came on first and were the only other band to play that night before Clan of Xymox.
T.A.U.T., a Bay Area dream-pop duo comprised of 21-year-olds Kennedy Ashlyn and Cash Askew, didn’t take long to charm the audience with melodic, synth-saturated shoegaze music that traversed the aural boundaries of darkness and incandescence.
Ashlyn’s reverb-drenched vocals shimmered through echoic beats, illuminated by the droning synth’s jeweled tones and the glistening sound of Askew on the guitar.
T.A.U.T. captured the essence of shy introversion, hopefulness and the kind of nostalgia one might feel for something that has not yet happened.
When it came time for Xymox to perform, the crowd became a bit more territorial and a few elbows from surrounding individuals may have been jabbed.
The set started with “I Close My Eyes,” which received audible approval from the audience, followed by more songs from their latest album “Matters of Mind, Body and Soul” as well as tracks from older albums like “In Love We Trust” and “Medusa.”
The crowd seemed the most swayed by their older hits, especially when “A Day” started to play.
Mooring’s stage presence was pretty mesmerizing; his agelessness in appearance and in his singing made it hard to believe that Xymox has been making music for over three decades.
The live performance throughout was nearly flawless and the band seemed to really connect with the audience. A few enthused audience members were acknowledged by Mooring and the band members were not afraid to make eye contact with the crowd.
Everyone was invigorated by the pulsating beats and the band’s palpable energy.
Clan of Xymox sounded better live than in recording, but who’s to say that the finessing of stage lights or the impeccably-calibrated sound levels didn’t make a difference?
Whatever the case, their overall performance was definitely worthy of all their four encores.