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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Music Giants X Ambassadors Play House of Blues in Boston

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The House of Blues, an otherwise modestly-sized concert hall in Boston, actually feels like a larger arena with X Ambassadors playing. The band, best known for their hit “Renegades,” was ready to show that they’re more than a one-hit kind of band by showing exactly how talented they are and hitting all of the high notes. However, the goal was not just about proving themselves to anyone, it was about XA (the stylized shorthand for X Ambassadors) showing  their audience the best night of their lives. This may be a tall order, but it’s one that XA spares no effort to come through on.
From the start of the night all the way to the confetti blast end, XA put on a show that invoked a sublime experience in the viewer. The bigger the show felt, the smaller the audience felt in comparison, making the experience seem larger than life. It was largely due to the way that XA was able to create a distance from their audience, not in an alienating fashion, but the kind of critical distance necessary to invoke that sublime experience and a sense of grandeur.
Along these lines, their interludes between songs were self-contained stories that centered on the songs themselves. In other words, the stories told were exclusively about the songs, and failed to address the audience as individuals as another device through which this sublime experience was achieved. Singer Sam Harris would introduce the songs by mentioning what they’re about—whether it was about superheroes, feeling like Indiana Jones, or simply feeling like a lowlife—all of which are subjects of XA songs. It was obvious when Harris would lead in with a comment on how “gorgeous” the audience was that his next song would be “Gorgeous” off of their album ”VHS.” While it might take away from the genuine nature of such a statement, it played right into the performance of an album as a self-sustained piece of art.
Although impersonal performances may seem like a negative aspect of performance, it was necessary for the sublime experience and for following through on their promise of giving the audience the best night of their lives. While people who attend shows go to experience live music because that is what is promised, they also secretly hope for some individual experience with the band, which is simply unlikely at a packed show at the House of Blues. However, by making their performance larger than life by avoiding that individual experience, it is then possible to become a universal experience.
While it may seem like the experience of the sublime is at the expense of a fun and unique experience of a live XA show, this is simply untrue. Sam Harris definitely had fun on stage during his performance of “Naked.” With a name like that, how can everyone not have a little fun? Harris had a few moves during this song that can only be described as having a Fifty Shades of Grey moment. But don’t let this performance that embraces sexuality lead you to believe there isn’t more substance to the show. XA’s performance of “The Jungle” somehow topped the sensual performance of “Naked.” It was perhaps the best song of the night. That’s even going against their final song choice of the night, the obligatory performance of their hit song, “Renegades.”
Despite a well-earned massive image, XA’s performance remained humble. Harris made sure to recognize their early days of opening up for other bands at the very same venue not too long ago, but now they’re going on tours with big name performers like One Republic and Muse. Now, X Ambassadors have made a big name for themselves, and Harris ended the night with the encore song, “Giants,” and prefaced their final performance by thanking the fans for helping them get to where they are now: “This song is about feeling bigger than you ever thought you could feel which is how we feel right now, so thank you so much, Boston, for giving us that.”