21 Jul 2012: Electric Factory Philadelphia
I was too young to attend a New Wave show in the ‘80s. All of these years I’ve questioned the longevity of the live show experience. Would they be able to hold everyone’s attention? Are the fans simply waiting to dance to the electro-pop radio hits? Did people go to Devo shows just to hear “Whip It”?
Hot Chip’s show at the Electric Factory answered all of these questions and more. The show wasn’t sold out, but the kids were faithful to the genre through their dark spectacles and bookish chic style. I have to assume they looked similar to the crowds from those aforementioned shows from the ‘80s.
The band stepped out on stage true to form as well. Lead singer, Alexis Taylor, happily entered in what looked like a Where’s Waldo? blazer. Stepping in front of a synthesizer in huge eyeglasses Taylor jumped right into “And I was a Boy from School” from their 2006 release, The Warning. Start the show with a song from two albums ago just months after a new release? I was shocked too, but the pace was set from that point on.
I could relate to the rest of the band because they looked…older. Unassuming, unshaved men playing the shit out of their respective instruments in front of the dancing masses was somehow a calming sight. The crowd looked much younger than the band itself, but they were all there to appreciate the evolution of a genre. A genre that has splintered off in so many positive ways throughout modern music history, but has happily found its place among a new generation of listeners.
They then seamlessly played into “Don’t Deny Your Heart” off this year’s release, In Our Heads. This throwback jam showcased the small, but intuitive light show flashing around the stage. They improvised through their whole catalogue, adding a whole new dimension to their albums. They made a ten song set feel like a fun night at the club by using cues from the crowd to extend their performances. This whole show was delightfully unexpected. I was curious about how it would pan out to begin with, and the experience became unique from the minute they started. The show had the crowd energy and participation that a jam band elicits, but the expertly paced set list suggested a sense of urgency. The combination of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard’s haunting voices made the lyrics stick to your ribs just as effectively as the calculated beats. A popular hit like “One Life Stand” garnered the same response as their lesser-known tracks. Every song was important. Every electronic blip was precise. A band that brings wide range of influences to their albums brought a wide range of concert experiences to their show.
Hot Chip continued to extend their live when they covered Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. This sent a beanpole of a man next to me in a spastic frenzy along with the rest of the crowd. This faithful but refreshing rendition was part of their second encore. An encore that was as satisfying as the whole show combined. The crowd wasn’t ready to stop dancing yet, and Hot Chip obliged.
By the end of the show I had moved to the balcony where they served adult beverages. From this point of view I noticed that not a single person was not moving. There weren’t any lost souls dancing alone in dark corners or young couples grinding so furiously that smoke arose between them. Everyone was there to dance themselves silly in a welcoming setting for a few hours. A band that embraces all identities proved that notion through the nature of the crowd. You might be a bit shy or afraid to hit the dance floor, but go to a Hot Chip show. You will wake up sore and smiling from the night before.