Concert Review: Hot Chip & The XX, April 20, Kool Haus

Toronto – Rarely do you see a double bill of epic proportions. Both The XX and Hot Chip could have sold out many venues in Toronto by themselves, yet they have chosen to join forces like Crosby and Malkin and take over the Kool Haus for one night. The show was beyond sold out and I was lucky enough to have tickets for the show. Having seen and loved both bands live before, I was quite excited for the show.

The XX

I like to do this thing called ‘call the venue beforehand and ask for set times’. I did this, and the women on the other end on the phone said that The XX was going to be on at 9:45. Great! I thought. I would have time to watch most of the Pens-Sens game and then go to the Kool Haus. Since when are bands ever on time? Well, not only was the XX on time, but they were early! I was shocked when my coworker texted me at 9:35 and said that the band just took the stage. Luckily, Toronto is a city of cabs and we were able to get one right away. However, the cab driver did not know where the Kool Haus is. How is that even possible? If I was a cab driver, I would scope out all the concerts and show up right when the show ends and take all the 905ers back to the suburbanite basements where they belong. Clearly this man had spent too much time studying medicine or neurosurgery and not enough time studying traffic routes in whatever country he had come from.

Arriving at the Kool Haus at around 9:45, I gathered we had missed about two or three XX songs. Bummer for Gary I guess. The XX must really hate England or have some severe gambling debts back home, for they have been touring FOREVER since their album came out, and this is their third show in Toronto since December. Having seen them in December, there has been notable growth in their live performance. The band is definitely more calm on stage and definitely have developed the confidence to tweak a lot of their songs in the live environment. The set was more or less identical to their set at SXSW, right down to the crazy drumming at the end of Infinity by Oliver Sim. As you would expect, they played all the songs off their debut album. The vocals were somewhat muffled by the Kool Haus sound system, which was a shame. The crowd was mostly enthusiastic for the band but there were definitely some chatty betty’s in the crowd and considering the XX’s music contains some quiet parts, that was quite the distraction.

All in all, a good showing by The XX. Even though they aren’t very lively on stage, their music speaks for itself. You can see them many times and still get shivers whenever Infinity or Basic Space places.

Hot Chip

Judging by the colorful nature of the crowd’s fashion choices, I would say most people were here for Hot Chip. The London band was in town to promote their latest album – One Life Stand. I’ve seen Hot Chip twice already, so I knew what to expect – a good dance session. I skipped my gym workout Tuesday night because I figure I’d get my exercise in at this show. I was correct. Going to a Hot Chip concert is like going to any other electronic act – if you aren’t dancing, then you will not enjoy the concert. That’s what their music and shows are about. If you want to stand there and sway, then go to Beach House or She and Him. Hot Chip is for people who like to dance. Having said that, I felt kinda sorry for all the people cramped in the middle of the Kool Haus. The show was sold out, so unless you were off to the side (like we were), you were pretty crammed in. This does not bode well for dancing and so I figure most of the people in the middle did not have as great a time.

Hot Chip played around 80 minutes. The set consisted of a handful of tunes off their new album and some carefully chosen numbers from previous recording. I am not that familiar with their new material but Thieves in the Night, One Life Stand and the single I Feel Better (in the encore) got some good reception. For my money, Over and Over is still their best song and the crowd went bonkers for that tune. I kind of described what that song is like live in my review of their last show. Other classic Hot Chip tunes played included A Boy From School, Hold On and set closer Ready for the Floor. Needless to say, the Kool Haus was transformed into a sweaty dance pit.

Overall, a great night of music, featuring two bands of extremely different sounds. Both were great and you can’t really ask for more.

Check out the new XX video, Islands, here:

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.