hot chip [2010]

Fox Theater
Oakland, CA
16 April 2010

So Rick Moranis walks into a bar (stop me if you’ve heard this one), spots a young John Hodgman (PC guy from Mac commercials), and it’s love at first sight.

Through a blessed miracle of science, a child is born of this holy union and that child is Alexis Taylor, the lead singer of Hot Chip.

There is no other explanation.

For a bespectacled man no taller than 5′ 3″ to stride out onto the stage rocking mustard yellow Hammer pants and a sportcoat over a third, unrelated-colored shirt (Miami Vice) and command the audience’s attention is truly something to behold.

And not just attention in the freak-of-nature or trainwreck sense of the word. Attention as in I’m in charge here and you all are going to adore eveything that I do and say.

And they did.

It was truly a 2010 costumed musical adaptation of Miami Vice. Starting with Taylor’s ensemble, continuing to the very-80s musical stylings and finishing off with the over-the-top lighting (including a generous helping of pink and teal), it could have very easily been a Michael Mann production.

And not to push the 80s references too far, but the electronic nerd pop vibe was so great, I was half-expecting Poindexter from Revenge of the Nerds to make a surprise appearance with his electric violin.

Now let’s back up a moment. I’ll be honest. I was there to see the opener, The XX, so everything I do and say should be taken with more than just a grain of salt. I came in not knowing much about the band. I came out with the impression that, at least live, they are a “fun” electronic pop band with simple lyrics and not-entirely original music.

There seemed to be an overall prioritization of spectacle over the actual music. I mean, I understand the preference to avoid pre-recorded loops, but how many keyboards does one band really need on stage at once? One guitarist, one drummer and 17 keyboards? Really?

In the end, my Hot Chip fan friend said it best: “it’s a dance party”. Hot Chip makes fun music that you can dance to, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just don’t forget the Hammer pants.