How Seattle's Pretty Girls Make Graves Helped Inspire the xx

Chris Kornelis
The xx's Romy Madley Croft mingles with fans after an in-store performance at Ballard's Sonic Boom in November, 2009. The xx play Showbox SoDo on Monday, April 12, and at Sasquatch! (sold out) on Sunday, May 30.
Romy Madley Croft doesn't remember what year it was, or how old she was, exactly, when she went to her first rock show. She remembers that she was with her friend and future xx band mate Baria Qureshi (no longer in the xx). She remembers that it was at London's Brixton Academy (Now O2 Academy, Brixton). She thinks she was either 14 or 15.

"It was a really amazing, eye-opening experience," the xx's singer/guitarist said in a recent phone call from a tour stop in Boston. "It was kind of around that point that I got inspired to begin playing guitar. I kind of didn't discover that I could sing until I started learning guitar, and I started to sing along with the chords and sort of discovered that I like singing."

Croft does, of course, remember the bands on the bill: The Distillers, Peaches, Eagles of Death Metal, and, yes, Seattle's own (sadly, now defunct) Pretty Girls Make Graves. Though fans of the xx's beat-centric, electro pop may find it striking that she plucked inspiration from a batch of punk rockers from the Northwest, Croft says the 2004 show (I looked it up) was packed with exactly the kind of music she was digging at the time. She even studied up on her PGMG before the show.

"I made an effort to listen to them before. I just really loved it," she says. "It definitely was a really interesting show. I was definitely into that kind of music when I was younger. I know it doesn't really reflect in the music now. But that was kind of what made me fall in love with music, really."

The fact that so many of the much-hyped band's stateside shows aren't open to impressionable patrons under the age of 21 -- Monday's gig at Showbox SoDo being an exception -- is a point of contention for Croft, and why the band of 20-year-olds often plays two shows (all-ages and 21+) in a night, like they did in Boston.

"When we were on tour supporting Friendly Fires, Oliver and I have been escorted in and out of the venues for being under age," she says. "I sort of kind of feel like it's a shame that these people under 21 don't get to see live music."

No arguments here.

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