Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor seems like an endlessly pleasant guy. Not that he’s always upbeat — he has a sad song or two in his catalog — but that he’s always trying to embrace the sunny side of things. You cannot help but feel good after hearing him sing Hot Chip’s smartly rendered and vivid synthpop tunes.
Alexis and Hot Chip did just that after two sold-out nights in DC last week — June 1 at 9:30 Club and June 2 at The Atlantis. It was a particularly electric experience to hear Hot Chips layered dance-pop in the intimate confines of The Atlantis, the newly opened IMP venue with a capacity of only 450 people.
Hot Chip played to such an intimate crowd as part of IMP’s 44 “big shows” to celebrate 44 years of 9:30 Club and related ventures in the grand opening of The Atlantis, and boy did they fill the wondrous room with exquisite music.
Hot Chip released a very good eighth studio album, Freakout/Release, via Domino Records in 2022, and the band dedicated a third of the show to it at The Atlantis on Friday. The band presented several standout songs from the record at the midpoint of the show, presenting single “Eleanor,” a melodic and nostalgic ditty with irresistibly sunny vibes (even if the clever claymation video subverts those vibes a bit).
Watch the official music video for “Eleanor” by Hot Chip on YouTube:
The band followed “Eleanor” with the chirpy title track from Freakout/Release, which was a primal dance track. They mixed these new tunes in with fan favorites from their previous albums (at least one song from each!). And so the crowd had a very good time indeed dancing around to the sweet melancholy of “And I Was a Boy from School” from breakout album The Warning and then “Night & Day” from the great 2021 record In Our Heads and *then* “One Life Stand” from the phenomenal 2010 album of the same name. Whew! It’s hard to imagine a more rousing sequence of songs in performance by today’s working pop bands.
Hot Chip also came with a couple of surprises. Late in the main set, the band played “The Evil That Men Do” and the opening act Cadence Weapon joined them for the song. The Canadian album performs the number with Hot Chip on the new album, so audience members may have anticipated the selection, but the combination on stage really worked well for the cautionary tale. Hot Chip’s mellow synths giving way to Cadence Weapon’s exciting rap recalled the sort of brilliance that makes songs by Gorillaz work so well.
Also synthplayer Joe Goddard made a prominent vocal contribution to “The Evil That Men Do,” and it was great to hear Joe. Joe was affixed to stage left throughout this show, bobbing and swaying in time to Hot Chip’s immersive rhythms. Owen Clarke flanked Alexis on stage right, and that talented bloke moved from synths to guitars throughout the show as the music demanded. Other members were less visible from the audience, and there was even a guy on synths cloaked in darkness at the rear of the stage.
Hot Chip closed the main set with “I Feel Better,” a song everyone was excited to hear. And then they moved into a five (!) song encore that included the highly thrilling earworm “Over and Over,” a 2006 single from The Warning that perhaps put them on the map.
Watch the official music video for “Over and Over” by Hot Chip on YouTube:
I mentioned earlier that Hot Chip performed at least one song from each album, and that they did. In addition to the ones mentioned so far, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, which last brought Hot Chip to DC for a sold-out show at 9:30 Club, saw two tunes in the set, including “Hungry Child” in the encore. Hot Chip played the excellent “Ready for the Floor” from 2008’s Made in the Dark; the band began the entire show with “Huarache Lights” from 2015’s Why Make Sense.
But the biggest surprise was the live debut performance of “You Ride, We Ride, in My Ride” from debut album Coming on Strong, a performance the band repeated the next night at the Knockdown Center in Queens. The gentle song has a soothing melody, and it was a nice way to say “good night” on this special occasion.
Everyone left with a dance in their step, feeling a little bit better about things in general.
Here are some photos of Hot Chip performing at The Atlantis on June 2. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.