Hot Chip + Matthew Dear | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 4.08.2008

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Sometimes I feel like write too much about Hot Chip. (Maybe I just don’t write enough about other artists is the problem.)  But then they play a show like this and I know, at least in the case of this band, it’s justified. Hot Chip absolutely killed it last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. There’s a special place in my heart for the Bowery Ballroom show in March ’06 where Pat Mahoney played drums, subbing for an ill Felix, but this was easily the best full-lineup show I’ve ever seen them play.

It’s been interesting watching the band evolve over the last three years, both on record and live. I don’t think they’ve ever played the same song the same way twice. "Boy From School" seems to get the most radical reworkings, which last night segued seamlessly out of show-opener "Shake a Fist." They use different synth sounds and percussion, while keeping the little guitar riff that is the song’s pulse as a constant. I think they just get bored and fiddle with the arrangements and it keeps things fresh for us too.

The main set was a nonstop dance party, with the bulk of Made in the Dark plus "Boy from School," and "Over and Over" from The Warning, plus a welcome but unexpected "Crap Kraft Dinner," my favorite from Coming on Strong. The sound was great (I don’t understand the MHOW haters) and the crowd super-psyched, as was the band. Al especially, who’d spent the afternoon in a pub watching Liverpool beat Arsenal. The encore we got the two slow-jams from the new album, plus "Don’t Dance" and a killer "No Fit State" which Alexis managed to work in a bit of "Temptation" (previously worked into "Boy from School" at Webster Hall last summer). As much as I don’t want to see them stop playing venues this size, they are ready for the Terminal 5s of the world.

Setlist: Shake a Fist | Boy from School | Bendable Poseable | Touch Too Much | Over and Over | Out at the Pictures | Wrestlers | Crap Kraft Dinner | One Pure Thought | Ready for the Floor | ENCORE: Made in the Dark | Don’t Dance | No Fit State | In the Privacy of Our Love

MP3: Hot Chip – Crap Kraft Dinner
(buy some Hot Chip)

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Opener Matthew Dear was pretty great too, playing with his band Big Hands. Much more minimal than on his great album from last year, Asa Breed, his live presence was kind of like the souls of David Bowie and David Byrne were trapped in the body of Timothy Hutton. wearing the skinniest jeans ever and a Euro-fitted jacket and shirt, Dear spazzed out with one of the most impressive arrays of hand-held percussions instruments, including at least four different shakers and this clickety-clack thing that I’d never seen before.

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Midway through his single "Don and Sherri" he welcomed Hot Chip to the stage and the song morphed into their version of the song which has been appended to a new version of Asa Breed. It was awesome.

MP3: Matthew Dear – Don and Sherri

MP3: Hot Chip – Don and Sherri

Bao Nguyen took some awesome shots for Brooklyn Vegan, so be sure to check those out.

Follow My Tangent: Hot Chip, Matthew Dear, Free Blood, Music Hall of Williamsburg

The North American leg of Hot Chip‘s Made in the Dark tour kicked off last night in Philly and finds them mostly playing big venues like New York’s 3000-capacity Terminal 5 (where they’ll be on Saturday). When I first saw them three years ago at Rothko I would’ve never imagined they’d be as popular (or as amazing) as they are now. I don’t like the idea of having to see them in such giant places but what can you do? Luckily, they still seem to make time for some smaller places, like tonight’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

For most of this tour the opening slot is going to Free Blood, which is Madeline Day and ex-!!! guy John Pugh. They’ve been around for a few years now, mainly playing here in NYC but this tour is likely to up their national profile. It’s definite party music, but more specifically I’d call it sex party music. Not that I’ve ever been to a sex party, but I’d have to imagine Free Blood’s steamy bump and grind would be a perfect lotion to the motion.

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Live, it’s the chemistry between Maddy and John that make it happen as there’s not a lot else going on onstage. John will occasionally strap on a guitar, and those have been the best moments at the last few shows of theirs I’ve been to. (Most recently at Lit about three weeks ago which is where this picture was taken.) Without it, it drifts into karaoke territory — really good karaoke but that’s basically what it is. There has been a gaping hole ever since the exit of bassist Gorman (who is still in !!!) about a year ago, and they need something else "live" to kick it up from Fun to Awesome. The records, though, are pretty much already there. Just in time for this tour, Free Blood released their second EP, with "Grumpy" being doled out to the internets:

MP3: Free Blood – Grumpy
(from EP 2, buy it from 7 Digital)

Meanwhile, The Daily Growl offers up a remix of that track from Edinburgh’s Found.

Here are the Hot Chip/Free Blood tour dates…

4/11/08 @ 9:30 Club in Washington, DC
4/12/08 @ Terminal 5 in New York, NY
4/14/08 @ Paradise in Boston, MA
4/17/08 @ Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL
4/18/08 @ First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN
4/22/08 @ Showbox in Seattle, WA
4/23/08 @ Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR
4/24/08 @ The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, CA

Tonight’s opener, however, is Matthew Dear, who apparently got his hard drive stolen at Galapagos last night while DJing there. Not sure how that happens, but it sucks. He just reissued last year’s Asa Breed as Asa Breed – The Black Edition (buy) with a bunch of remixes, including a cover version of his single "Don and Sherri" as done by…wait for it… Hot Chip. I like the original plenty, but the ‘Chip’s take on it is great too:

MP3: Matthew Dear – Don and Sherri

MP3: Hot Chip – Don and Sherri

Though Dear DJs a lot, tonight is him with his band, Big Hands, and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get a Hot Chip or two onstage to join him for "Don and Sherri." He’s on at 9pm, if you’ve got tickets.

And, finally, speaking of Music Hall of Williamsburg… they’ve now got a happy hour. From 6pm till the first band starts, well drinks and draught beers are only $3. Which is nice ’cause there aren’t any other bars to go to beforehand in Williamsburg.