Sewn throughout the Spotify playlists of both your cool uncle and your techno-obsessive DJ pal, Hot Chip have been churning out their distinctive brand of electronic music for almost two decades now. The five-piece are lauded amongst fans and critics for their ability to blend indie-tinged guitar-funk with dominating synths and four-to-the-floor drums, creating pop-centric tunes that you're as likely to find on 6Music as you are in the middle of a house set.
Londoners were lucky enough to catch them performing at Ally Pally on Saturday night in support of their latest album, ‘A Bath Full Of Ecstasy’.
On first arriving Clash was super-curious to find out exactly what the audience would look like. Upon stepping off the infamous W3 bus, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Hot Chip’s long career and unwavering ability to create relevant music was represented by the diverse crowd they pulled in for the evening: 40-somethings brushing shoulders with musically switched-on teens, their presence acting as a metaphorical seal of cool for the more seasoned fans.
The show featured a blend of synths and traditional instrumentation, grounding the wall of tonsil-tickling sawtooth waves in their opening song ‘Huarache Lights’ with a distinctively human groove. Nothing gives us more pleasure than to see electronic music performed without a series of laptops obscuring faces.
Hot Chip’s lead singer Alexis Taylor, a man with an extreme passion for oversized glasses, is their technical frontman, but the whole band is front and centre, each manning a keyboard containing an incomprehensible amount of sonic range. If Kraftwerk came up in the time of The Mighty Boosh, you’d have likely ended up with Hot Chip.
The setlist was perfectly balanced, casually stepping between their older, indie-inspired hits like ‘Over And Over’ - effectively transporting the crowd back to their ’06 Student Union days - to more contemporary bangers like ‘Flutes’. The breakdown of the track prompted the band to dance in unison, as if performing a dystopian Macarena. It’s enough to make you abandon your £12 two-pint cup of beer while you follow suite.
All the while, the accompanying laser show was bright enough to signal extraterrestrials. Given some of the particularly quirky attire and spasm-infused dance moves of the audience, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were already there.
‘Hungry Child’, a more conventional club track off the band’s latest album enticed casual grooving into a more fist-pumping affair, with much of the crowd reaching for the lasers for the first time in quite a while.
An unrecognisable melody to fans slowly contorted itself into the opening riff of ‘Boy In School’, prompted whoops and whistles in a collective “Ahaaa!” moment. The chanting of the lyrics occasionally drowned out Alexis’ vocals, possessor of the calmest voice in Britain.
The latter half of the set took a more lovestruck tone, with songs like ‘Spell’ and ‘Melody of Love’ enticing the many couples in the audience to embrace at hip level, a testament to the band’s dynamic back-catalogue. It’s always a pleasure to see couples connecting through the music they love.
The famously springy bass-line of ‘Ready For The Floor’, caused a rapturous cheer as the last song before the encore and caused a mad panic to get a boogie in before the night’s finished, much like the man who orders three pints for himself at last orders.
The band closed out the set with one of the best renditions of Beastie Boy’s ‘Sabotage’ we’ve ever heard. The shouty, confrontational vocals of the song transforming the band’s usually subdued vocals into something of stark contrast.
A night of electro-pop and dance music descending into punk-inspired chaos, Hot Chip’s Ally Pally show was an absolute joy.
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Words: Dec Seargeant
Photo Credit: Ronald Dick
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