As we had previously hyped, Friday night at the Paramount was indeed buckets and buckets of fun. After a solid performance live on KEXP earlier that day, Hot Chip took the stage and did what they do best: tear the roof off. In addition, Friday’s show was Hot Chip’s last US show this tour, and that being the case, they dropped a few surprises that had long-time fans losing their minds. Backed with an excellent opening set by freak-out dance punk band YACHT, Friday’s concert-goers had very little to complain about.
The duties of warming up the crowd couldn’t have fallen in more capable hands that evening. On their epic new record Shangri-La, YACHT blur the lines between thoughtful concept album and don’t-think-just-dance party album very well. Live, YACHT scales back the electronic layering and go for more of a vintage vibe. Hosting the progressive/retro mash of bands like LCD Soundsystem, YACHT had everyone dancing even without the bass and kick drum turned up to ground-shaking volume. Claire’s presence on stage was electrifying. She sold YACHT’s magic to people who had never heard a single song, and by the time they got to Shangri-La singles “Utopia” and “Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)”, they had dozens of sparkling new fans ready to rock smiley face triangles to their next show.
The stage preparation for Hot Chip was mind blowing in and of itself. As YACHT tore down their setup, the stage just kept growing. 30 minutes later, no less than seven stations were strung out on the Paramount stage. There had to be at least thirty instruments, synthesizers, and samplers ready for action. And as the lights dropped, seven English gentlemen entered quietly to wild applause. The typical five Hot Chip members were aided by a tour drummer and multi-instrumentalist so that (as far as anyone could see from the crowd) everything in their set was manually triggered. Opening their set was a totally vibrant version of Made in the Dark classic “Shake A Fist”. While the album cut is known and heralded for its totally ridiculous dance breakdown in the second half, the live version was all business. No “sounds of the studio” explanation - just seven dudes playing the living crap out of their keyboards and synthesizers while the crowd went nuts.
Second was The Warning cut “I Was the Boy From School”. Almost immediately, it was evident that Alexis Taylor relies on zero production tricks for his gorgeous voice. His crooning sounded great, if not better, than it does on the album. Joe Goddard was no different - as he pounded out keyboard parts and shook his tambourine, his deep, velvety voice was 100% was it is on the record. Perhaps most impressive onstage was Al Doyle. When he wasn’t totally shredding on the guitar, he ran to and from different percussion and keyboard setups to play whatever part was needed for the tune. And wherever he ended up, he totally threw down. For a band whose production is so excellent and well put together, it was refreshing to see a live setup to this extent and to have it sound so incredible.
Hot Chip’s set was heavy on their new record In Our Heads. Surprisingly, they pulled out the much loved cut “Look At Where We Are”, which hasn’t popped up on many dates preceding this one. The dance floor banger “Night & Day” was sped up just a tad and turned up a whole lot to make for one of the more memorable tracks of the night. Goddard even remarked afterwards, “Wow... that was quite a rockin’ rendition of that one... excellent work, everyone.” In between new ones were plenty of classics. “Over and Over” and the title track from The Warning were there, as well as a darker and dancier version of Made In The Dark’s “Ready for the Floor”. Also present were One Life Stand favorites “I Feel Better” and the title track. Finally, for the encore, Hot Chip went all the way back to Coming On Strong for “Crap Kraft Dinner”, which they’ve only played one other time in the last four years.
All in all, Hot Chip’s night in Seattle was a great one. While they’ve been away from Seattle for quite some time, they made their visit count, and I’m sure everyone present will be excited to mark their calendars again in a few years. Hot Chip’s new record In Our Heads is out now on Domino Records. YACHT’s newest Shangri-La is out on DFA.