Music Review – Xeno and Oaklander exceeds expectations at Stonewall Bar event in Orlando

Xeno and Oaklander – Stonewall Orlando

Xeno and Oaklander‘s tour made an appearance at Stonewall in Orlando this past Sunday night, April 28th (2019).  It was part of the Panic Underground Dance event. While they were playing on the same night Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell was on, a decent sized but enthusiastic crowd showed up to see them and opening act Plastic Ivy.  Although I wasn’t able to witness much of the opening act Plastic Ivy – which I’m aware they played at the same venue last December  – the electronic, minimal synth duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride succeeded in lighting a beacon of dark and otherworldly melodies, cascading along the hushed west end of Orlando’s Church Street.  With that said, the tour with both of them appears to be a match made in whatever place you call happiness.

Walking into the venue, they had what’s now the usual set up of every music act’s equipment on the stage and in Plastic Ivy‘s case on the floor which of course, offers a more personal view.  Some were hesitant to approach but eventually loosened up and did so in little time.

Liz Wendelbo of Xeno and Oaklander credit – Sandy Holmes of Elemental Eyes Photography

Afterward was the Brooklyn based Xeno and Oaklander.  What I really feel inclined about the duo is their urge to invoke warmth within the confines of the typical – I suppose – minimal synth song.  Pitchfork said it best – ““It’s a warm breath against your neck when you’re bracing against an ice storm.” At times it has subdued that energy, others it has shelved it for more ambient soundscapes, but with tonight’s show supporting their latest LP “Hypnos“, there was to be no sparing of one for the other.  And it started off with the atmospherics. With the affinity for the soft-spoken, the live set took some time adjusting to Liz’s voice – a mixture of Francoise Hardy and futuristic posturing, but when they did, it was a satisfying bordering of songsmith, melody, and drive, even as it ventured into more sinister tracks like “Fire and Smoke” and “Angelique”, with hooks that may suggest a lost Resident Evil movie soundtrack in my opinion.

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Another detail I liked about the show was the filming of the synthesizers overhead.  If you’re not the type who likes to be close to the stage but want to see what their playing?  Now part of the stage was monitored above.  Regardless, I still took pictures of the equipment.

UPDATE 5/8- X & O will end this US tour on the west coast. Below is the last five dates.  Afterward, they travel across the pond.

Remaining Xeno and Oaklander US tour dates.

May 8th – Phoenix, AZ – the Rebel Lounge
May 9th – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
May 11th – San Diego, CA – The Casbah – DREAM ’19 – Night 2
May 12th – Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex
May 13th – Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club