Playing one’s hometown can be an inspiring and emotional event for any artist. In the case of Drake, the Toronto rapper has made his annual OVO Festival a celebration of his hometown every August, featuring two days of supporting acts and surprise guests.
For the South London trio the xx, their recent stint of sold-out shows in Brixton gave them the opportunity to put together a dream line up of musicians while also promoting local organizations and charity groups.
Between March 8 to 15, the xx played seven sold out shows at the O2 Academy Brixton in their hometown. Now, the trio, who in January released their third studio album I See You (coincidentally named in honour of Drizzy) have released a film highlighting the power of music and the importance of arts in the community while also giving fans a look inside the eight-day festival.
Directed by Tayo Rapoport and Josh Renaut, Night + Day Brixton opens with shots of Londoners posing in South London as various voice-overs discuss the beauty of the area, calling South London ‘home’ and praising the area’s mix of cultures that often leads to artistic inspiration.
Band members Romy Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith spend the first half of the 22-minute film visiting local charities and organizations that promote the arts, partnering with some of the groups to create new merch for the band.
The idea to turn the eight-day residency at the O2 Arena into a full-fledged festival came about only after the concert series was announced. “Night and Day was originally an idea just to do something a bit different and a bit more than just a gig,” says Croft in the film. “To be honest, we didn’t know these Brixton shows were going to become Night and Day, it just sort of happened in an organic way because we were suddenly playing all these shows.” It wasn’t until all seven shows sold out that the trio decided to make the homecoming series of dates into something special. “When we sold them out, we thought, let’s make this a special occasion to give something back, because we felt so lucky to be able to do all this.”
Having the event take place in South London was a top priority for the local band, says Sims. “This is our home, it’s our city. London’s our inspiration. London’s where we’ve worked the most and done the best. I’ve seen all of my favourite bands play here. I started seeing them at a point where I had no ambition to be up on stage and it was just something I was here to enjoy and take in.”
Rather than frame the eight days as a ‘takeover’ of the event space, Sims explains in the film that keeping Night + Day a collaboration was always at the forefront of the band’s goals. The festival included a number of guest appearances, including Florence Welch, Sampha, Savages’ Jehnny Beth and singer Robyn, who can be seen in the film discussing the importance of collaboration in music. “I think the process of making music is the collaboration between people or between moods and ideas,” says Robyn. “I love to collaborate and I love to work together with other people and I think it’s an important part of making music.”
In addition to the seven concerts, the Night + Day Festival also included film screenings, Q&A panels, after-parties, and a week-long broadcast with local radio station Reprezent Radio, with highlights from all the events showcased in the inspiring film.
Check out the new short film Night + Day Brixton from the xx, including a live performance of their single “On Hold.”