Synthpop collective Hot Chip hit the 9:30 Club recently in a sold-out show that fulfilled the collective dance dreams of house and disco fans of all stripes.
Unassuming frontman Alexis Taylor demonstrated once again that he’s got rhythm to spare in an engrossing set of sparkling tunes that accented the band’s maturity with new numbers from A Bath Full of Ecstasy (truly)!
Hot Chip slid out of the gates with “Huarache Lights” from Why Make Sense on Sept. 7, but then really hit their stride with bangers “One Life Stand” from 2010’s album of the same name and “Night & Day” from In Our Heads, the band’s 2012 effort.
Both of the latter songs stressed Hot Chip’s penchant for clever wordplay and the occasional pun while also providing the audience with slick dance tunes. Should anyone have resisted the urge to dance, they were certainly soon hooked by the irresistible “Over and Over” from The Warning, the incomparable sophomore album that still stands as one of Hot Chip’s best.
“You cannot say that people in DC don’t dance at concerts!” exclaimed U Street Music Hall owner Will Eastman from the seat next to me, citing a recurring criticism of crowds in our fair city, as he grooved along with 1,200 friends all soaking up Hot Chip’s nu disco beats. And he was right! Hot Chip later continued to make people dance in a midnight DJ set at U Street Music Hall.
At the midpoint of the show, Hot Chip played “Hungry Child” from A Bath Full of Ecstasy, the band’s seventh studio album, which was released in June via Domino. The slightly more mellow song carried a deeper R&B flavor than some recent Hot Chip songs. It took its time to build, and synthesist Joe Goddard added layers of sound from his rig at stage left, as he did throughout the show, acting as the relatively silent partner to Alexis’s everyman vocalist.
Stream A Bath Full of Ecstasy by Hot Chip on Spotify:
Toward the end of the set, Hot Chip added other new songs — “Melody of Love” and “Positive,” but you could be forgiven for getting lost in the excitement of an earlier number. Prior to those songs, Hot Chip covered “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, and the room collectively lost its mind. Hot Chip’s arrangement of the hip hop hit was unique while also true to the spirit of the original. Under Hot Chip’s skilled handling, their version of “Sabotage” was both a Beastie Boys song and a Hot Chip performance — no easy feat. It was truly an opportunity for the funky outfit to show how smart they really are. (Answer: Pretty damn smart.)
Hot Chip’s encore consisted of the new album’s title track, another slow jam that cleverly speaks to washing away the pain of the past. “Bath Full of Ecstasy” served as a lovely showcase for Alexis’ soft and reassuring voice, which occasionally acts as Hot Chip’s secret weapon. The glittering synths of the band wouldn’t have quite the same tone without the sympathetic warmth imparted by Alexis’ distinctive warble.
Closing the show, Hot Chip continued to punch all of the right buttons with “Need You Now” from Why Make Sense? and more importantly “I Feel Better,” perhaps their best song ever from the sonically compelling One Life Stand. The thrill of that last song rang throughout our ears as it ushered us into the longest night, although one certainly full of euphoria — the sort that an evening of Hot Chip’s music provides.
Here are some pictures of Hot Chip performing at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 7, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Mickey McCarter.