Hot Chip

Pitchfork Music Festival Review: Cults, Youth Lagoon, Nicolas Jaar, Hot Chip, July 14, Chicago

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

How to describe Pitchfork? By far one of my favorite festivals in Chi-town, I’ve heard it described as ‘Lollapalooza for hipsters’ and ‘the poor man’s Lollapalooza’, but it’s more than just an off-shoot: Pitchfork has an ethos all its own. This year’s Pitchfork ethos can be summed up with the following phrases: mud pits, ribbon dancing and jammin’ in a poncho. It might have rained in Chicago on Saturday, but in Union Park Mother Nature was just giving the good Pitchfork attendees more props to use whilst dancing their feelings.

The first act that I caught was Cults on the green stage. When Halley saw Cults, she summed it up as “essentially a stage full of hair” which is not untrue. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion both have beautiful brunette locks that take up more space onstage than you would think possible. They put on a decent show, playing “Go Outside” and “Abducted”, two of my favorites from them, but I thought they could’ve done more to get the crowd excited, and I ended up drifting over to the blue stage for Youth Lagoon when they came on about a half hour later.

I didn’t know most of the bands who were playing at Pitchfork on Saturday (the only reason I ended up going was because my friend won tickets – thanks Amber!), but I youtubed around for most of the bands, and I really took a fancy to Youth Lagoon. Trevor Powers (the man behind Youth Lagoon) has a nice, mellow mix of experimental/pop/electronic/twee/Americana. Man definitely sings straight through his nose, but while in some cases that can make a body want to punch someone in the face, in his case it fit perfectly with his sound. I approve Youth Lagoon – you may continue.

I stuck around at the blue stage for American/Chilean, organic/minimalist electronic artist Nicolas Jaar. I had looked him up beforehand and was intrigued, thinking I would at least stick around for a little bit, was further intrigued when he appeared onstage in a button-up shirt and a sweater in the 90 degree and humid as-all-get-out weather, and was determined to stay when a man with a saxophone walked onstage. Five minutes later I was questioning that decision as we were still listening to the “experimental noise” intro, but five minutes after that when the band dropped their beat I was totally sold. Although their set was only 25 minutes or so because of technical problems it was probably my favorite of the fest.

At this point I could say that I made my way over to the Red stage for Hot Chip but that would be a lie. At this point what I actually did was meander over to the vegan-gluten-free-dairy-free food vendors and consume kettle corn, lemonade, a vegan reuben (which the man next to me was nice enough to point out looked like it was constructed from glue and newspaper – thank you sir!), and dairy-free chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream – all of which was surprisingly (especially in the case of the last two) delicious.

I then made my way over to the Red Stage. While Jaar might have had my favorite set of the day, Hot Chip definitely had my favorite patrons. Hot Chip is one of those bands that I have in my itunes only because my college roommate transferred all of her artists from A to J into my computer. Honestly I don’t love their recorded work, but live they were lovely – catchy and altogether endearing, and the crowd really responded to that. Highlights included three guys tying together their ponchos and jump-roping to the beat as well as a 20 foot wide, 20 foot long, 1 foot deep mud pit containing a raging dance party. It’s not the most elegant way to sum it up, but really it was just an all around good time.

I decided to leave it there. Grimes and Godspeed You! Black Emperor finished off the night for others, but I wanted to end the night with that splendid image of mud, mustaches and manic-dance-parties before my bedtime hit and I got grumpy. So until next year Pitchfork!

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

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 4 Comments

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:

Concert Review: Hot Chip, Pop Montreal, Oct 1, Metropolis

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Pop Montreal | Leave a comment

Hot Chip

Montreal – So there I was in Montreal for the Hot Chip show last Wednesday at the Metropolis. Before I talk about Hot Chip, let me first tell you about the Metropolis. Even though I haven’t yet been to many of Montreal’s live music venues. I can tell you one thing, the Metropolis rocks!

The Metropolis is an amazing old building with a balcony. It’s large enough to host a decent crowd but can still offer a relatively intimate live music experience. First constructed in 1884 as a skating rink, the Metropolis has also moonlighted as a movie theatre, a theatre house, a discotheque, and even a porn house! Is there anything this building can’t do? The answer is no.

So anyway, before I talk about Hot Chip, let me next tell you about Pop Montreal. Pop Montreal is a great 5-day international music festival in our favourite sister city: Montreal. There’s all sorts of great live music over the city in great venues. After experiencing Toronto’s music festivals like CMW and NXNE, I have to say that my first impression of Pop Montreal was that it was a relatively grassroots and low-key affair. Most of the venues I went to were extremely intimate, and the tickets were very accessible in terms of price and availability.

OK, so how was Hot Chip? The show was certainly one of the more anticipated shows at Pop Montreal this year. This London-based band showcased their brand of very danceable rock to a crowd of enthusiastic fans. I kind of wish that “Over and Over”, being an amazingly fun song to dance to, would have occurred somewhere later in the set (or in the encore) instead of mid-set. But apparently they always do that, so I suppose they’re not going to mess with a formula that works. Their encore included a rendition of “Nothing Compares to You”. A nice little retro throwback combined with sly wink that this up and coming band doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nicely done.

Metropolis: 5/5
Hot Chip: 4.5/5
Pop Montreal: 4.5/5