Pic: Ronald Dick

Music, Reviews

Hot Chip review (Forum Theatre, Melbourne)

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Prior to their headline show at Victoria’s Golden Plains Festival over the weekend, UK synth-pop wizards Hot Chip popped by Melbourne’s Forum Theatre to host a cross-generational dance party.

Melbourne funk synthesist Mike Katz, who goes by nom de plume Harvey Sutherland, was aptly selected as the support act. He showcased recent track Superego, which he labels back-to-basics machine funk steppe.

After a quick turn-over, the British five-piece took to the stage. Lead vocalist Alexis Taylor took a seat centre stage on his keyboard, and the band proceeded to open with Huarache Lights from their 2015 album Why Make Sense?

The band has seven albums in their discography now, following the release of last year’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy. That album received significant praise at the time, and for good reason. For the better part of two decades, Hot Chip have been releasing music to a consistently high standard.

The quadruple-synth backbone of Hot Chip’s music is a marvel to witness live. Each band member dips between instruments across the 15-song set, moving around each other on stage with such fluidity: it’s a dexterity that can only come from a band who resonate with each other and their music on a higher level.

One Life Stand was the second track performed, plucked from their 2010 album of the same name, and the crowd — median age mid-30s — went collectively wild. From then on, the barrage of hits continued.

And I Was A Boy From School heralded Night and Day, the latter of which incorporated Jonathan Richman’s I Was Dancing In A Lesbian Bar.

Plucked from the same album, Flutes was up next. Amid pupil-contracting seizures of light was a choreographed, albeit minor, dance performance. As the lyrics “Work that inside outside, Work that more, Work that right side left side, More that more” played out in the chorus, the band members marched in a 360 degree circle; going from north, to east, south and west. It was a quaint moment that showcased the musicians’ quirkiness and child-like sense of fun still present in a band that’s now made up of 40-year-old Dads.

After their collective dance, the band brought it down a notch with Positive and Spell from their 2019 album. Alexis Taylor’s vocals are spellbinding – there is a consistency to his tone, and his high note reach managed to wrap around the audience in a soothing clasp.

Throughout the whole set, Hot Chip had connected with their audience in a way I have never seen, creating space for goofy dancing and uplifting sing-alongs.

Just to keep everyone on their toes, Hot Chip whipped out their biggest party hit: Over and Over. As the first notes rung out, cheers were heard throughout the Forum and in unison the audience sang “Laaaaay back”; and some – i.e. the man in front of me – proceeded to physically lay back themselves.

The band capped off the main set with two sing-along masterpieces Ready For The Floor and  Melody of Love. The latter saw the evening’s iconic hype man and multi-instrumentalist Owen Clarke lift up his hands in spirit fingers, making the audience follow accordingly.

Throughout the whole set, Hot Chip had connected with their audience in a way I have never seen, creating space for goofy dancing and uplifting sing-alongs.

Prior to a non-negotiable encore, you could hear audience members muttering amongst themselves what the encore pieces would be. “Perhaps it will be a medley of hits?”, “Maybe it will be The Warning?” but no one was ready for what was to come.

All of a sudden, the volume hit its maximum limit. Alexis Taylor screamed out the lyrics “Aaahh can’t stand it, I know you planned it” and everyone collectively squealed as Hot Chip covered the Beastie Boys Sabotage, with seizure lights in full throttle.

But you’re fooling yourself if you think Hot Chip are going to round off an evening of alternative-pop on a thrashing rock cover. As the violins were heard overhead, it was as if as a crowd we had collectively forgotten the band’s ultimate uplifting track I Feel Better.

“Nothing is wasted and life is worth living, Heaven is nowhere, just look to the starsoverlapped with Taylor singing “I only want one night, together in your arms”; mixed with the violins, drums and synths, was the freeing and heart-warming piece the audience needed to round off a Saturday night.

With this performance, Hot Chip showed the audience why they are holding down the fort as one of the leading figures in the alternative music scene.

Hot Chip played the Forum Theatre, Melbourne, on March 7.

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