Like any dark club one would expect to hear DFA Records’ disco blaring from, Central Park was a steamy mess Wednesday night. This is hardly unusual for a DFA-themed show. Unusual was the early evening hour at which this dance party would take place, as well as the fact that openers, and rising DFA stars, Holy Ghost! put together the night’s best set. Unfortunately half the capacity crowd wasn’t there yet to enjoy it.
Touring with a live band for the first time, Holy Ghost! duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel had great balance between their low end and funk synths, all over the most synchronized four-to-the-floor beat of the night. With LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang helping out on vocals, “Say My Name” and “Hold On” were especially good.
Though Hercules and Love Affair released one of the best, and most serious, contemporary disco songs in the past 10 years (“Blind”), it was with ringleader Andy Butler’s first incarnation of the ephemeral ensemble. The current lineup eschews any live instrumentation for a mushy, throbbing, bass-heavy remix with a new cast of contributing vocalists. Kim Ann Foxman remains the petit fulcrum, but replacing Nomi are the less compelling singers Shaun Wright and Aerea Negrot. While the group’s beguiling and unabashed enthusiasm (lots of jumping around) penetrated the crowd, this incarnation’s muddled performance makes me anxious about Hercules’ sophomore release next month.
Completing the DFA lineup, Hot Chip were a disappointment. Yes “Boy From School” was done well, even with steel drums playing the main riff, and “Ready For the Floor” was a solid, if not predictable, ending. But the band’s coherence was off, making their beat lack any congruity. The brilliant “Over and Over”, a song that perfectly combines texture and melody, sounded diluted. Furthermore, Alexis Taylor’s bedroom crooning does not translate well live. His wandering intonation would totally fit the DFA aesthetic if he wasn’t so earnest in his attempts at making a pretty sound. Of course careful editing has always made their records great, so such an underwhelming performance was disappointing. Luckily, Holy Ghost! provided just enough early excitement to last me the rest of the night.
Hercules and Love Affair