Big Ears Day 1 :: jj + the xx

I couldn’t make it to the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, but luckily I had an intern who was more than willing to go down and cover it. Here’s my intern Liz Lane’s report (and photos by Linda Moorhead)

Though I’m certainly no seasoned veteran of music festivals, I’ve been to a few both good and bad. As a whole, Big Ears was a dreamy music festival. The venues were top notch, the schedule went off without a hitch and the talent offerings were fantastic. The most unique aspect was the collaborative spirit that each artist had—numerous acts had worked together prior to the festival and lent their talents to sets throughout the weekend. All in all, it was a great experience and I hope to see the festival grow even more next year.

Big Ears Festival Day 1 — words by Liz Lane // photos by Linda Moorhead

Nosaj Thing (@ Bijou Theater)

For the first act that I took in a Big Ears, I was a little unimpressed. He just looked like an average guy around campus with a mixing board. Everyone seems to have a laptop and claims to be a DJ these days, with the high volume of danceable mash up music around. Nosaj was decent, just needed a bit more diversity in his set. His beats were repetitive and the crowd lost interest after a few minutes.

jj (@ Bijou Theater)

jj has been quite the blog darling generating a lot of buzz over the past few months. Thus, I expected something amazing due to all the hype. Her opening was strong, but the shine quickly wore off. She has little to no stage presence and at times appeared awkward. Her voice is undeniably strong and entertaining, but she lost my attention halfway through her set because of her shyness. Videos were projected on a screen behind her in time to the music and often came off as artsy stoner home movies. In the end, the crowd was ready for the next act after jj proved to be lackluster.

The XX (@ Bijou Theater)

Though it may seem harsh, I feel like the xx had more talent within the first five minutes than the two previous openings acts. They took the stage veiled behind a large opaque screen a large white “X” projected on it, launching in to their song “Intro” as the screen fell and immediatley created an atmosphere of a mysterious, smoky catacombs that stood in eerie contrast to the ornately decorated Bijou Theater. Their set was on par, sexy, brooding, and deliciously mysterious. Definitely one of my favorite shows of Big Ears.

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