Episode 3 in the January gig-a-thon went down last Wednesday (the 9th of Jan) with Hot Chip at the Palace Theatre (click for Part 1 and Part 2). Would have written it up earlier but it’s been a particularly busy week, with some great friends getting married on the weekend and all the associated festivities (warm-ups, recoveries and the like).
I haven’t seen Hot Chip do a headline gig since they rocked my socks at the Prince of Wales when touring ‘The Warning’, quite a few years ago now! I also saw them play a more than competent warm-up slot to LCD soundsystem a couple of years back but on that day they weren’t at their best and were outclassed by a barnstorming James Murphy at the peak of his considerable powers.
I’d even cooled quite a bit on them over this time. I never really got into ‘One Life Stand’ and went into 2012 of the opinion that they were a fading force and I didn’t really need another one of their records. That started to change with Joe Goddard’s outstanding form on the 2 Bears record and it all went upside down with the release of ‘In Our Heads’, a clear winner in my eyes for their best, most consistent album to date and led with ‘Motion Sickness’, the best song I think they’ve ever written. It came out of nowhere and floored me, hence there was no delay in dusting off the dancing shoes to go see them play it live.
Declaring it ‘School-Night Party Night’, we took our massive crew (about 10 people) and secured the prime spot of the steps at the back of the D-floor. Melbourne’s Worlds End Press hit the stage soon after and started rocking from the get-go. They really act like headliners on stage. The lead singer moves a lot like Luke from The Rapture and their sound is well developed (with some excellent dancing from the bass player). They probably deserve to be quite a bit bigger than they are but a lot of their songs lack the big hooks of bands like Cut/Copy and are a big harder to hold onto. Those that do have them, like single ‘Second Day Uptown’, are warmly received and sound great. By the end of the set they’re killing it on stage but the energy isn’t quite picked up by the building crowd. It seems that the bands are going to have to work for their applause tonight…
Hot Chip arrive on stage looking as nerdy as ever, but with the feel of a main-stage festival headliner. They’re all grown up and a well refined unit. Opening with ‘Shake a Fist’ and an epilepsy-inducing light sequence, the sound was initially a bit muddy but sorted itself out quickly. Moving directly into ‘And I Was a Boy From School’, the punters started to shuffle and a massive cheer went up for their simple but devastatingly effective light show which flashed strong lights alternatively from the left and right of stage; giving the appearance of a robotic animation. It was a great example of a wicked song given an extra lift by some great live production.
The new album was introduced with a great version of ‘Don’t Deny your Heart’, which went into ‘One Life Stand’ and then ‘Night and Day’. the crowd were starting to warm up but not quite won over just yet. It’s something that I noticed when I first moved to Melbourne. The crowds are often subdued at first, and won’t just cheer mindlessly for the sake of it, but when the band is truly great the energy is given back tenfold.
As the first notes of ‘Flutes’ dropped, the mood in the room lifted noticably. It’s an absolute heads down banger which commands you to dance, and dance we did. The guy next to me barely had time to exclaim ‘how good was THAT’ as they launched into a high-energy version of ‘Over & Over’. We erupted with applause as the speed was brought back through ‘Look at Where we Are’. Playing with the tempo of the set shows just how they’ve developed into headliners – the shows may lack a bit of the ‘anything can happen’ factor of earlier years but on the whole they probably now give more crowds a better experience. I’m not weighing in on the ‘big room vs. Scungy bar’ argument in this post, just commenting…
A couple more songs came out before they played ‘Hold On’ and the room danced like their lives depended on it. It was almost uncomfortably hot, even in our relatively-uncrowded position but it stopped no-one’s feet fro moving and arms from waving.
Leaving the stage to deafening applause, they returned with a slow song I didn’t recognise before lifting the roof with ‘I Feel Better’ and ‘Let Me Be Him’ before leaving the stage again. But where was ‘Motion Sickness’? How could they not play it? We were screaming for ‘one more’ as the lights came on and the house music went up. It was a massive missed opportunity for them not to play it, bit it didn’t take too much away from what was an excellent performance from a band that keep delivering right into their 5th album.
A couple of mates went on to the 2 Bears DJ set at the Mercat Basement (Disappointing apparently) but we left right away, wondering what Alexis, Joe, Al and the gang will get up to next…