The Paramount Theatre was the scene of an infectious dance night on Friday. This wasn’t your typical Skrillex-inspired bro-step, however, but a night of indie pop electronica sing-alongs and bouncing melodies.
Openers YACHT, made up of Jona Bechtolt from Portland, OR and Claire Evans from Marfa, Texas, were the perfect energetic compliment to Hot Chip’s blend of multi-instrument electronica. The band’s website proclaims, “YACHT is a Band, Belief System, and Business…All people are welcome to become members of YACHT.” Claire prances around and preaches to the audience, while Jona shreds and staggers across the stage, guitar swinging. The duo were joined by their touring band of Robert “Bobby Birdman” Kieswetter and Jeffrey “Jerusalem” Brodsky, rounding out the former’s guitar and synths with bass and drums. Unfortunately, a band which sounds so full on record sounded quiet in the large theater space. Previous shows at venues like Neumos fit them well, but at Friday’s show I could have had a conversation without straining to hear at all. This is a band that thrives at high volumes, and the sound just wasn’t right.
Nevertheless, they performed well, with singles like “Psychic City,” from their July 2009 release See Mystery Lights, as well as “Dystopia (The Earth Is on Fire)” from Shangri-La (2011). The latter had the crowd shouting “Let the motherfucker burn!” Before “Utopia,” Claire explained that the song’s high BPM (beats-per-minute) allows you to freak out and reach a higher experience. The song was funky, frenetic, and infectious. The band took it a step further, mixing in lyrics from 2009’s “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want.” It’s fun to see a band rework old favorites, and this mash-up was successful in pumping up the crowd. More of the YACHT’s eccentric beliefs can be seen at http://teamyacht.com/what/, including a list of mantras for self-improvement and worship.
The crowd more than tripled between sets, and was absolutely packed by the time Hot Chip from London came on. One of the members did some last minute sound checking and segued beautifully into their first song. Myriad lights started, bathing the stage in purple, blue, and white strobes. The six-piece took the stage, including Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard, Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Felix Martin, and Rob Smoughton. Taylor sings the majority of the tracks with his angelic clear voice, with harmonies from Goddard and Martin, creating a great mix of vocal styles. The entire band seemed to be having a blast, smiling and dancing. Clarke periodically busted a few moves to the side of his keyboard. The band’s new single, “Night and Day,” from recently released In Our Heads repeats, “Let’s sweat. Let’s sweat.” The dancing in the crowd was a little underwhelming, but pockets here and there were still getting down.
The large space fit Hot Chip better than it had YACHT, but the sound was slightly garbled. There was so much going on at once that it was incredibly hard to recognize which song the band was playing until coherent vocals could be heard. This may be due to the band’s reputation of switching up their live shows, improvising on certain songs, but it felt oddly like it would have sounded better from the balcony. Many songs were from the new album, but older numbers like “One Life Stand,” “Over and Over,” and the infamous “Ready for the Floor” were sprinkled in. The most striking track was only two songs in, hailing from The Warning, titled “Boy From School.” A sexy groove about schoolyard love, the song’s video is a fascinating trompe l’oeil of scenes created from fabrics, paints, jelly crushed by toddlers, dirt, and many other materials on a warehouse floor. The characters lie on their backs and sing upwards at the camera. The last shot is in reverse, showing the complex creation of the set. It’d be great to see Hot Chip apply this visual creativity to their stage sets one day. (See the video after the photos).