Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Hot Chip at The Mod Club, Toronto, November 6th 2006

Hot Chip will put you down, under the ground

Keep Fallin'
Shake A Fist*
And I Was A Boy From School
Out At The Pictures*
Just Like We (Breakdown)
Hold On*
Beach Party
No Fit State

Over And Over

*As far as I know/can tell, new songs.

As at least one other member of our little collective could tell you, Hot Chip rock surprisingly hard live. Well, "rock" isn't quite the right word. As a band that have made a lovely, restrained album that's one of my favourites of the year for emotional rather than ass-shaking reasons I had some small amount of trepidation about them seeing them live, and not just because it meant I was going to have to finish off a 50% essay after going a full night without sleep (concerts in Toronto should end earlier, or else the bus back to Guelph should leave later).

I mean, The Warning is one of those records that really makes me want to never meet Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard. Not because they don't seem nice, they do (and I covet Joe's "Extended Version" t-shirt from the show), but because in my experience meeting people who have made music that "really, like, speaks to me" is disappointing. There's a necessary combination of specficity and vagueness needed for this kind of effect; sure, I love Hot Chip partly because they write about/from the perspective of people like me, but also because there's enough room in the songs that I can interpret them to be really personal.

As a result many of my favourite tracks on the album - "So Glad To See You," "The Warning," "Won't Wash," "Colours" (along with "Crap Kraft Dinner" from Coming On Strong, on which more in a minute) - are on the quieter, more reflective side. As you can see from the setlist below, that is not a side the band indulged much last Monday, but Pete and I still walked away having loved it more than pretty much any comparable concert we'd been to in the past few years (I mean, yes, the Mountain Goats were pretty amazing, but that's a serious case of apples and oranges).

On this show, at least, the six-person band (five in the front playing some combination of keyboard/device/percussion/drum/guitar, and one full time drummer in the back) seemed determined to provoke the maximum amount of dancing possible. The older tracks, which initially seemed kind of limp when I downloaded Coming On Strong (which I now have to buy; there used to be a used copy available down the street from my building, but as I found out last night it's been sold, naturally), were ferocious (I've had that sing-songy refrain from "Keep Fallin'" in my head all day!), and the material from The Warning was ecstatic. Let's not even get into Taylor interpolating "oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got grey eyes" into the mid-section of the I-didn't-even-realize-how-much-I-wanted-to-hear-it "No Fit State," which I had just decided on the way up to Toronto that afternoon was maybe my new favourite song of theirs. You could have knocked me over with a feather. And after so much sweat and euphoria never have I been in a crowd so desperate for just one particular song the band had been teasing us with all night, and when they finally played "Over And Over" it detonated like a bomb. By the end, my voice was sore, my legs were sore, I was covered in sweat, and I'd gone from loving an album to loving a band.

And the new material! Usually these are the dull moments of a live show, but all of them were great, particularly the duo of "Hold On" and "Graceland," the latter of which sounded like a polyrhythmic sunrise. The comment in the review of The Warning comparing them to New Order is almost painfully apposite at this point, not because Hot Chip sound like them, but because if there is an analogy and these songs get aired in anything approaching their live versions we are headed for "Temptation" territory, in terms of quality. And although I'd never connected the two, Hot Chip and New Order are actually fairly similar; rock bands (kinda) playing electronic dance music (kinda), lyrics equally loved and derided for both their goofiness and their devastatingly precise emotional command, artfully opaque narrator/singers. I am fantastically excited at what comes next, and given that so far Coming On Strong seems to me to have more great moments than Movement (although I think the latter is a bit underrated; nothing as incredible as "Crap Kraft Dinner," but still), I'm possibly even more excited about Hot Chip. Of course, it helps that unlike New Order I get to be a fan as the band happens, so to speak.

The way the band fucked with the arrangements was also incredibly impressive, turning "Beach Party" into almost-Krautrock, "Just Like We (Breakdown)" into something vaguely akin to high-grade Underworld, "Careful" into an even more storming version of itself. Unlike most concerts even songs I know and love took a little while to identify, and the mass cheers when we did were kind of inspiring. The band actually had impressive stage presence, walking the fine line between cool and dorky exceedingly well.

I don't really have a greater point to make here, other than Hot Chip are awesome and I expect great things from them. But if they're coming your way, you kind of owe it to yourself to check them out. I admit that in addition to this sort of show it'd be neat to see them doing a more musically sedate set (dropping something like "Look After Me" into the middle of this show wouldn't have made a bit of sense), but it's the collision between the raucous and the emotional, as with New Order, that makes the band great. If they put out a live album (which they absolutely should), "No Fit State" alone should prove that amply.

Posted by Ian on Tuesday, November 07, 2006 at 12:53 PM |

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The FunkyFunky 7 Are:
A group of kids with WAY too much time on their hands.