I was fortunate enough to catch Hot Chip last night at Bristol’s O2 Academy, supported by Django Django. I was a bit worried about it, because I absolutely love their new album In Our Heads, but I had heard mixed reports about their live show.
It didn’t help that it was at the O2 Academy, a venue which is traditionally regarded as a little bit shit by many Bristolians. I’m slowly getting over this though, as with a little bit of effort a band should be able to make you forget where you are (despite the £4.50 cans of beer, Gaymers cider, overcrowded dance-floor, narrow stairways and smelly toilets). The Hives did it a couple of years ago, the Civil Wars and NoFX did it recently and last night, both Django Django and Hot Chip did it too.
I should probably mention I’m not a much of a reviewer – I can’t always remember what songs the bands played, and in what order, or the names of any of the band members – so I’ll leave that to someone else. All I can tell you is that Django Django were a really great surprise. I’d heard a couple of their singles on BBC 6Music and liked them in a background sort of way, but live the harmonies sounded a bit like Ride but with better beats and less floppy hair. Even better than vaguely sounding a bit like a band I liked back in 1990, some of the band members could play more than one instrument which is something I absolutely love to see! The crowd, initially dubious, really warmed to them and by the end of their set there were plenty of people dancing enthusiastically. Oh, and they did some quite long instumental groove sections (heavy on the percussion) and quite often didn’t stop between songs, both qualities I admire in a good live band.
So, the challenge had been laid down for Hot Chip and I am very glad to say they rose to that challenge. As a relative newcomer to their music I was waiting for tracks from In Our Heads and they played plenty of them, mixed brilliantly with stuff from their previous albums. Two songs in and the band came alive, relaxing into the wonky, soulful, electronica-infused indie music that they do so well. There was more instrument swapping, and plenty of simultaneous, multiple instrument playing too. There was attention to detail, at one point someone handed Alexis Taylor a guitar which he played for a whole 4 bars before handing it back! The music was soulful, funky, exciting and geekily clever, and the band were clearly having as much fun as we were. Oh, and they now have a sexy lady drummer, what more could you ask for?
Highlights? Night and Day was awesome live, These Chains was stunning despite losing the UK-garagey feel to the drums and they dropped from Ready for the Floor into a cover of Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac (a favourite song of mine from the first album I ever bought!), but pretty much everything was good. As with Django Django, there were moments where the band hit a groove in an instrumental section and just let fly, and with the light show and the shades wonky electronica it was easy to get a little bit hypnotised by it all. Who needs drugs when the music is this intoxicating?
So, lots of fun and pound-for-pound the best value gig I’ve been to for ages. I ache all over from dancing solidly for three hours and I have had yet another good experience at the O2 Academy. Now, it they could just clean those fucking toilets properly and stock a decent cider.