POWER OF POP’S NIGHT AND DAY WITH HOT CHIP
For one of their two stopovers in Asia – the other being in Tokyo, Japan, Hot Chip swung by our island for a one night only concert, that could very well be a one life stand affair for those who attended, and also those who had missed out.
With a history dated back to 2000, the indie electronic group from London has released 5 solid, shake-a-fist punching studio records to date, with the latest offering In Our Heads barely two weeks old in their music catalogue. Their member list is also coming on strong, with Sarah Jones of New Young Pony Club playing live drums and backing vocals on tour, and Grovesnor officially joining this year, going from drummer to driving force of the band.
When asked about the evolution of the band from debut till the latest LP, besides “doing three records in between”, Joe Goddard explained that besides the practical inclusion of two additional members, their live set has grown more intriguing and definitively experimental, with live drums and other instruments/equipment to play around with as compared with their early days. Musically, they have become more educated with making records (“how to engineer, how to sound good, how to sing… properly”, coming up with interesting song structures, the songwriting process and programming).
Despite the downturn of record sales that one way or another impacts the band, fans should be glad to know that they have managed to hold on despite the tough times and rough seas behind and possibly ahead, and are generally pleased with how things have developed so far for Hot Chip, with no major twist of bad luck that had occurred to the band’s musical progression and career. I could almost see the glitter and twinkle in Al Doyle and Joe Goddard’s eyes as they said that, almost quietly shouting out loud, “Look at where we are now!”
At Avalon, the crowd gathered close to the top of the 9 o’clock hour was not as large as the 20,000 strong member audience that Hot Chip would have easily garnered in their homeland, but the energy for such a relative smaller scale was still nonetheless electrifying. The usual “don’t dance” attitudes and behaviours of Singapore crowd broke loose, like thieves in the night, as though these chains of social barriers were finally losing grip and everyone was just enjoying themselves and embracing the good music upfront. I, for one, had only one pure thought in mind as I entered the venue: I was ever ready for the floor.
Hot Chip hit the audience over and over with great grooves irresistible for the feet not to tap along with – from recent The Simpsons-sampled “And I Was A Boy From School” to tunes from In Our Heads like smashes “Flutes” and “Night & Day”, before ending the night with an explosive medley that featured a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. As promised and mentioned prior in this review, their intervention of different musical instruments excelled throughout the set, especially so on “I Feel Better”, with the beats of the congas complimenting the tune with an afrobeat, tropical-sounding touch. By the end of it all, I believe everyone had felt the same way as I did, as we had danced like wrestlers in a boxing ring. We were suffering from motion sickness and in no fit state to be seen as presentable in a place like Avalon, but heck, who knows, who cares.
Speaking on In Our Heads, their latest album, Joe and Al agreed that they were proud of this music output, and claimed that this is their “best one yet”, with upbeat tunes containing expansive, atmospheric material. The production on this record was also stated to be longer and more detailed with repetitive sound testing and proofing, and they believed that fans will be rewarded with small details as more things revealed themselves through one listen, and another, and another, and one, one, one thereafter… These are strong songs that make fans want to dance around and be very merry happy about, the interviewed duo said.
Though they were not as involved in the last two videos as they were previously with their works (directed by Peter Serafinowicz) – especially with “Over And Over”, which was shot entirely in front of a green screen, conceived by Alexis Taylor and inspired by a Franz Ferdinand video (“Take Me Out” most likely) – creatively, we hope that they never stop inputting themselves with their off-the-shelf ideas, and a new crazy video will soon surface to blow our minds.
Joe and Alexis recently told NME in an interview that “pop music’s become quite conservative in a lot of ways”, with music that “feel like they’ve come from a factory that tries to correct everything”, and that “they take out all the flaws that make everything really loveable.” Further elaborating on today’s music, Joe felt that he really liked pop music from an earlier time of the 1980s-1990s, before people started to use the computers to correct everything, from mistakes played on instruments to the tuning of the voice, which eventually remove the soul of the music. Even though they do the same at times, they do not do so on a large scale, and make an effort not to hammer out every mistake, or else the creative products or output will become a lifeless form – which sadly, is the norm case these days with mainstream music of today.
What a great night & day spent with a band that truly understands and appreciates the art of making good music. To Hot Chip, Singapore is so glad to see you in our shores, take care, and hope you will come back again!
Special thank you to Nikki/Domino Records for setting up the interview and April/Untitled Entertainment for making the gig review possible.
Q: How many Hot Chip titles were consciously used in this review, without actually referring to them as titles?