HomeUncategorizedRomy Brings "Club Mid Air" to New York City: Review

Romy Brings “Club Mid Air” to New York City: Review

“Are you emotional? Do you want to dance?” Romy asked the eager crowd at Knockdown Center, the newly-renovated Queens venue on Friday, March 29th. The answer, of course, was yes — at “Club Mid Air,” the live show celebrating Romy’s 2023 solo album Mid Air, audiences didn’t come solely to dance and jump (and bump and grind, as it turned out). There was to be an emotional release, a sense of openness binding the room together.

As a member of The xx, Romy became well-versed in the practice of offering vulnerability and tenderness, both on records and in live shows, where the trio could explore a more active sound that lifted off from their minimalist origins. She and Oliver Sim always seemed to wear their hearts on their sleeves, crushingly represented by songs like “Angels,” “Chained,” or the Jamie xx cut, “Loud Places.”

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Now in her solo era, Romy has taken that vulnerability and made it ecstatic. With Mid Air, she’s drawn from the well of the music that reached her when she was an adolescent: diva disco, euro-pop, and queer dance jams. It’s been an intriguing pivot from a musician who began her career with stark, carefully-drawn portraits of intimacy, never explicitly acknowledging her queer identity within the songs. Based on the immediacy of Mid Air standouts “She’s on My Mind” and “Enjoy Your Life,” Romy has traded subtlety for urgent blasts of color. Now, she has much more in common with the fluorescent hues of Jamie xx’s solo work than the indie world she was flung into in the early 2010s.

So, the limited run of US shows this year under the name “Club Mid Air” promised that kind of beaming exuberance. With the album’s neon-lit album cover, you could practically imagine the kaleidoscopic club-scape adorned with those same sleek, vibrant lasers. While the overall look of the show was in line with this vision, it did feel altered by the sheer volume of people.

Knockdown Center is a very narrow building with very high ceilings. The sound, for an electronic show, was terrific, but seeing Romy proved challenging. The way the room funnels out near the stage gives an illusion of more space (see: another New York venue, Terminal 5), which encourages people to crowd the front, exacerbating the problem. Perhaps a second night would have helped the audience feel a little less loaded, or perhaps Knockdown Center just isn’t much fun when the audience is that close to capacity.

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