Hot Chip at First Avenue, 7/13/12

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

See Also:
Hot Chip's Felix Martin on In Our Heads and club anthems

Hot Chip with Chromatics
First Avenue
Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes, you just know from the outset it's going to be one of those nights where the band is going to blow the crowd away and blow the doors off of the club. Friday's sold-out Hot Chip show at First Avenue was just such a night and while it likely wasn't a life-changing show for people, it seemed apparent that it was the most fun many had taken part in for quite some time.

Taking the stage to a roar that seemed more appropriate for an encore, they began with a long, bass-heavy, ribcage-collapsing intro that slowly morphed into "And I Was a Boy from School." The vocals -- as they were throughout the set -- void of the compressed, studio sheen applied to most of their canon. While that may have been a disappointment to some, it lent the set a human element in the midst of the dense layers of synthesizers, effects-laden guitars, and the like. It's a tightrope walk with bands in this genre of music. If you get too button-pushy, the crowd loses interest because the band looks like they aren't having fun or are possibly just checking their e-mail. On the other hand, move too far away from the original material, and the crowd will complain that they didn't pay to see an episode of Unplugged.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Hot Chip, however, struck a nice balance by using live instrumentation along with the synths, programmers, etc. Lead singer/keyboardist Alexis Taylor was quite mobile on stage, dancing and moving to the edge of the stage to sing to the crowd when duty allowed. Putting on an entertaining live show is a challenge for many bands that deal mostly in electronic dots and loops (see: Basement Jaxx), but Hot Chip seem to have solved that problem very nicely.

Seizure-inducing strobe lights flashed throughout the set but slowed a bit as the powerful, teeth-rattling intro to "Flutes" built up steam. The crowd became fully engaged, and the floor in the Mainroom turned into a mass of sweaty, flailing limbs and ear-to-ear smiles.

Hot Chip then slowed the set down a bit with a couple more songs from their new album, In Our Heads, which has found them back to old form after two slight missteps with 2008's Made In the Dark and 2010's One Life Stand. It gave the crowd a chance to breathe, but it was a brief respite. "Over and Over," from their near-perfect 2006 release, The Warning, set the bodies in motion once again.

Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

The proper set ran its course, and the band exited the stage, save for Owen Clarke, who stayed to tune his guitar. Sometimes it's nice to have the "will they or won't they?" tension before an encore, but Hot Chip had turned one of the finest sets of any band that has come through Minneapolis this year -- there would clearly be an encore. The crowd, sweaty and looking fairly tired, pulled together once more for what turned out to be medley of sorts, snippets of several of their songs and a longer chunk (maybe two verses and a chorus) of -- really -- Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere". It was a surprising, lovely end to what had been an equally lovely show, the likes of which this city may not see again this year.

Critic's Bias: I saw Hot Chip open for LCD Soundsystem at Roy Wilkins a couple of years ago. It wasn't their best show and I was left mostly unimpressed, but I chalked it up to the venue. In contrast, this was the best show I have seen by any band at any venue so far this year.

The Crowd: Mostly in their 20s-30's and much more sober than you'd expect from a Friday crowd at First Avenue.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I can't believe how many people are dancing, this never happens at shows in Minneapolis."

Random Tidbit: This was Hot Chip's first show of the tour and often those are used to works some kinks out. There were none to be had on Friday and if this is what the first show was like I can't imagine how good the last one will be.

See Also:
Hot Chip's Felix Martin on In Our Heads and club anthems

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