As I stood awaiting Hot Chip to play a sold out First Avenue on Saturday, May 30th, I thought to myself: Is this is going to be the greatest thing I’ve seen? I haven’t witnessed birth except in farm videos, I have yet to see a whale breach and I haven’t been to Cirque de Soleil so maybe. This is going to be a great show. This is going to be awesome. #anticipation. Moments after mentally hashtagging my mom’s favorite Carly Simon song (and shaming myself for doing so) the band took the stage. Folks in the crowd swallowed the remaining sips of their Summit EPA and went appropriately crazy. “Huarache Lights” was being constructed before our eyes and the line, “replace us with the things that do the job better” rang out to suspicious ears—nobody can do what Hot Chip does better than Hot Chip. For the next hour and a half the band built their songs, like dancing masons with keyboards and guitars, sonic brick by sonic brick. Here are a few thoughts and observations.
Hot Chip is a genre-bending band; they’re cultural glue. The range in ages and types of people at the show was amazing. It was like a Pride Parade, a frat party, Portland (both Maine and Oregon), the coolest people you know and your cool friends from work (you know, the pretty cool ones you wouldn’t consider really cool, but they’re cool compared to other people in the office) all came to the same party on a Saturday night. It was great. There were people dancing and drinking Red Stripe, Corona (with a lime), PBR and shots of rail whiskey—which is a tell tale sign that it’s time for white people to dance.
Front man, Alexis Taylor, was awesome. He came onto the stage looking like Ringo Starr and by the end he had morphed into a Beastie Boy. I’ll walk you through it the best I can. In the beginning, there was a man wearing a long coat of sorts. It was light colored with dark polka dots. It draped over his body, frumpily, like the top of a mushroom. After a few songs, it came off. Underneath was a sweater with a tube (I think) that was coming out of it (I think) and the tube (?) was dangling until it got too hot and it was time to shed another layer. After the sweater came off, a towel draped his head as he built his tracks, played guitar, sang and worked the crowd. He, like his band mates, was a total pro and he loved what he was doing.
The band is touring on the heels of its latest album, Why Make Sense, but they played a solid collection of hits from past albums. After the opener, “Huarache Lights,” they played favorites “One Life Stand” and “Night and Day” before “Easy to Get” and “Started Right”—off the new album. After a couple of newbies, it was back to classics: “Flutes,” “Over and Over” and “Alley Cats.” They finished with, “Cry For You,” “Need You Now,” “Ready For The Floor” and “I Feel Better.” The encore cooked with “Boy From School,” “Let Me Be Him,” “Why Make Sense” and a cover song that you’ll have to go to the show to hear. Okay, fine, they did a rendition of Springsteen’s “Dancing in The Dark” and it was kickass.
My only gripe is that I wanted to hear more songs. I wanted “Down With Prince” in Minneapolis, played at the club Prince co-owns. I wanted to feel and hear the power of “Motion Sickness” blast through the sold out crowd and maybe see somebody throw up from dancing too hard—my money is on the two I saw shooting rail whiskey. My friends wanted to hear, “Shake a Fist,” “Don’t Deny Your Heart,” and others. But, that’s what happens when you see a really good band with a lot of really good songs, right? Overall the set list was satisfying and seeing Al Doyle slay “Over and Over” and the band groove to “Boy From School” was magical.
So was it the greatest thing I’ve ever seen or will ever see? Probably not. But it was a pretty cool show. If you’re up for an excellent experience and haven’t gotten your ticket yet, pick one up. They’re playing Toronto, Ontario on the 3rd, Boston on the 4th and Washington DC on the 5th before heading back over seas to a show in Istanbul on the 13th and a weekend set in Barcelona on the 18th and 19th. The next time they’re back in the States will be for a single show in Los Angeles on August 11th.