Out of problems come solutions. Solutions to first world problems, at least.
I found myself at a loose end at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I was feeling distinctly underwhelmed by the Saturday night line-up. I’m not a fan of the Killers’ stadium indie. I find it a bit antiseptic, a Bon Jovi for the noughties. I’d seen the Chemical Brothers on enough occasions to know what I’d be getting – great visuals, stomping beats, few surprises. Wu-Tang Clan? Might be great, would be chaotic, could be crap.
I plumped for Hot Chip at the Park stage. I was aware of a few of their songs, in particular Over and Over, the metronomic ode to repetition. I liked everything I had heard but not enough to get off my backside and buy an LP or ticket for a gig. I had nothing against them. We just didn’t click. I’d seen Alex Taylor play with Scritti Politti at the Barbican Rough Trade Celebration in 2016. He was an ideal foil for Green Gartside, their keening high register voices meshing beautifully. It was a highlight of a lovely evening in Green’s company.
It was one of the best decisions I made all festival. Hot Chip were the perfect Saturday night band, with the crowd in a buoyant mood after 72 hours of solid sunshine. I was blown away by their set, combining Saturday night beats with gorgeous melodies – think an intersection of Scritti Politti’s wistfulness with New Order’s dance floor savvy and Stop Making Sense era Talking Heads’ stage full of musicians, all moving, multiple points of focus, each member adding to both the melodic and rhythmic of the music being created.
In short – my ideal band.
And at Ally Pally, they were playing on my doorstep.
The North London set was very similar to the Glastonbury one. Centred on this year’s Bath Full of Ecstasy, the band’s first record using external producers. The genesis of the album was when Alex and Joe worked on Katy Perry’s 2017 Witness LP. Spell and Echo were ideas held over for the Hot Chip record. I’ve been playing Bath Full since the summer, the ideal LP for dancing around the kitchen whilst julienning your kale. It’s a remarkably upbeat record for 2019, given everything that is going on in the world.
Hot Chip offer a perfect set. Nothing drags but there is room for songs to expand and breathe. The old favourites like Ready for the Floor and Over and Over meld perfectly with Melody of Love and Hungry Child, my personal favourite from the new album. The crowd are energised and the old Palace is rocking. The encore was a wild cover of the Beastie Boy’s Sabotage, this time without Kieren Hebden aka Fourtet who joined the band at Glasto. We got a further glimpse of their influences when they interpolated Jonathan Richman’s I Was Dancing In The Lesbian Bar into the banging Night and Day.
Hot Chip are onto their 7th album in 15 years. They still sound vital and innovative. There’s no sign of them running out of ideas. Regular collaborations and DJ sessions appear to help keep them fresh.
As a latecomer to the band, it looks like we’ve still got a few miles on the road together.
Better late than never.
If you fancy a taste of Hot Chip’s current set, here’s their Friday night set from the Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank this year. We went on Saturday night to see Kraftwerk and Jarvis. It’s a fantastic festival and well worth checking out.