Hot Chip – Terminal 5 – July 20, 2012
Electronic dance music is experiencing a renaissance right now, and the London-based band Hot Chip is somewhere down one of the paths in this explosion of creative talent that’s pushing the genre in a thousand different directions. Never mind that half the band could double as high school chemistry teachers, their pioneering take on the world of electronic sound is unique in an otherwise cluttered genre. The group topped off a three-day stint here in New York City by playing a sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Friday. (On Wednesday they played a show in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park followed on Thursday by a terrific performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.)
Things kicked off with “Motion Sickness,” from their latest album, In Our Heads, a slow-building song that piled so many Talking Heads-esque polyrhythms onto one another that it almost hit a saturation point by the end. Just about every song they played was so beat driven that dancing became an involuntary reaction. Even “Boy From School,” one of their more somber recorded songs, was kicked up a few notches live, making it irresistibly dance-y. “Don’t Deny Your Heart” sounded like it was constructed entirely out of the greatest synth sounds of the late ’70s or early ’80s, a time when electronic music was restricted to the seldom few geeks who could control the not so user-friendly machines that manufactured electronic noises (people who, more often than not, also looked like high school chemistry teachers).
Hot Chip’s performance was also playful in terms of the audience’s expectations. Some of the best moments were interludes that popped up seemingly out of nowhere only to disappear without a trace after a few seconds. Such aural teases made for an engaging listening experience that’s unusual in dance music, which is otherwise known for its escapist quality. LCD Soundsystem taught the world it was possible to simultaneously be experimental, crowd-pleasing and catchy as hell. And Hot Chip is moving full speed ahead with that tradition. When singer Alexis Taylor sings, “The joy of repetition really is in you,” in “Over and Over,” to a sea of dancing bodies, it was more like an astute observation than a lyric. They’re on to something, but they already seem to know that. And whatever that something is, New York City can’t to get enough of it. —Dan Rickershauser