Tuesday night is when the dorks came out to play. I know this because for once I didn’t feel like everyone around was better at dancing than me, which for the record is not hard to do. Remember the Elaine Benes dance? Yep, that’s me. Anyway, that’s what made this double billing of Hot Chip and Holy Fuck so much fun! I didn’t get the awkward, sinking feeling I usually get when I enter a club. I felt accepted and free to flail like the goofy geek I am with a group of musicians and crowd with similar sensibilities. I felt that both bands served up an electronic smorgasbord that played to the sensitive and shy types in the audience as well as those just looking to show off their moves.
Holy Fuck were the more experimental and moodier of the two groups. They looked both menacing and kind of hilarious squished together in a small space with their gadgets and their never-ending collage of bleeps and bloops. What made them riveting is that they weren’t just standing behind laptops and pretending to do more than they were. Matt McQuaid and Matt Schulz were a metronome-like rhythm section and Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh looked positively possessed tinkering away on their keyboards and a wide variety of machines that you might have seen way back during the invention of the genre. A lot of the crowd just stood in awe as their bodies involuntarily swayed back and forth looking remarkably like zombies stuck on an escalator. I’m not shaming them. It was all so hypnotic! The only thing that ever broke the spell was the lighting. At times, it was so dark on stage that I was worried that the lighting guys had gone for a shit break or something. It was less than ideal for Thomas, our photographer for the night.
Even though I thought Holy Fuck were just as good as Hot Chip, the crowd had come to get their groove thang on with the headliners. To be fair, Holy Fuck’s set was primarily instrumental (except a guest spot from Hot Chip’s own Alexis Taylor) and this crowd were very much ready to sing AND dance. They went bananas for the one-two punch of “Huarache Lights” and “One Life Stand.” I swear within seconds I was in the most eclectic night club I’d ever been in. At one point, I saw a 70-year old lady shaking her booty (rock on!) side by side with a line of gawky tall dudes and their girlfriends joyfully clapping out of sync. Even I didn’t feel inhibited, and I’m the guy who’s usually worrying that everyone is silently judging him. This sense of comradery amongst a group of unknowns is largely due to Hot Chip and their propulsive energy, shameless stage presence and emotionally intelligent lyrics.
See, even though Hot Chip makes the kind of music that you could hear in a dance club, they would most probably be struggling to even get in, if they even wanted in. Their music is cool, but they aren’t and that’s what makes them so accessible and enjoyable to watch and dance to. During “Flutes”, everyone howled as four of the band members, led by Alexis Taylor, rotated and bounced in 90-degree intervals after every two bars of the chorus. Your average electronic group or DJ would never perform something so silly as if one MUST be stoic to enjoy this stuff. At the end of the day, this was rhythmically brilliant music performed by incredibly talented musicians; who gives a flying fuck what they look like? Lead singer Alexis Taylor looks like he could be the cousin of both Elton John AND Bob Balaban but when he sang “Boy From School” with his angelic tenor, you could see all the misfits and even the well-adjusted people bow their heads in appreciative acknowledgement.
After a shockingly ferocious rendition of Beastie Boys “Sabotage”, complete with violent strobe lights no less, the night peaked with arguably Hot Chip’s most famous banger “Ready For The Floor.” How do you follow that one? You can’t. This is not to throw hate at “Positive,” “Made in the Dark,” and “I Feel Better,” but they ended the night on a bit of a low that should have just been part of the regular set. The obvious sign was that quite a lot of people were leaving before the end of the encore to beat the push and pull of a departing crowd. A good encore will have you moving to the point that you don’t give a shit if you miss your bus but hey, it’s also possible that everyone was just tuckered out from dancing so damn much!
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Mike Milito