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Ithaca homeboys (brothers Sam and Casey Harris and Adam Levin) are a band that may have flipped off your radar; but with over 14 million listeners on Spotify and collaborations with Eminem, Lil Wayne and Imagine Dragons, they are one band that should be given space on your playlist. In the US the indie alt-rockers have been making waves in the scene since their debut album, VHS, went platinum. In the UK they've also had moderate chart success with tracks like 'Renegades', 'Jungle' and 'Sucker For Pain'.

XA are gifted songwriters with a real ear for a melody. Drawing on hip hop, trap, pop, rock, jazz and pretty much anything they can get that hands-on to genre blend into their own image and likeness. It's probably this ability that has managed to garner an audience from across the age divide. However, it's the band's energetic live shows that really give the best forum for their music. They really are hands down, one of the best live acts you will ever see.

Frontman Sam Harris comes alive in front of an audience. His originality, artistry and uniqueness are writ large during the set. He has plenty in common with legendary performers like Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Mick Jagger: artists who are fearless and bold in their approach. Artists who engage with the crowd and perform the shit out of a show. This theatricality that Sam has makes the show as memorable as the songs he performs.

As Sam steps onto the stage at Lafayette and works the crowd at the 600-capacity venue as if he were playing an arena. The energy is there from the get go and the synergy between the audience and the band is palpable. As Sam launches into 'Renegades' the room is jumping. Launching straight into 'BOOM', Sam treats us to some of his best body pops and dance moves as he struts up and down the stage. There's also plenty of people in the crowd showing off their best peacock moves throughout the show. Even two songs in it's evident that this gig has become half singalong, half party and it's a total blast from beginning to end.

There's little time for interactions between band members that you'd normally get at larger shows, this smaller venue is perfect for Sam to interact with his fans, shaking their hands, singing to them. It's all the sort of precious stuff that generally goes once the shows get larger and larger, it's the building of this artist/fan relationship that ensures the fanbase is firmly cemented. In between his fancy footwork, Sam grabs a guitar here and there before darting around the stage once more.

Keyboard player, Casey Harris, is a key element to the XA's sound and style. It's little surprise that his playing is sometimes jazzy and at other times percussive. Equally drummer, Adam and touring member Russ Flynn, show their diversity as musicians by being able to play a complex array of musical influences.

The ironically titled track 'Zen', is a crowd pleaser, but this show is anything but chilled. The set features a broad selection of tracks from across their catalogue, including collaborations. 'Gorgeous' is dedicated to the audience, while 'Not Easy' is a seldom performed live track. The encore, 'American Oxygen', - co-written for Rhianna, 'The Devil You Know' is a fast and furious celebration of their music and ends on an absolute high with 'Jungle.'

It’s a crowd pleasing set that has something in for fans and newbies alike. Having just signed with Virgin, they are intent on carving their own path and doing things their way and hopefully their new label will encourage their creativity and uniqueness and take them to the top of their game.

Review Cathy Clark and Gerry Driver

Photos by Gerry Driver




Back To You

Ahead of myself

Friend for Life


Hey Child



Not Easy




In Your Arms



American Oxygen

The Devil You Know



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