Hot Chip: How to Be Hip While Nerdy

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If you could judge a band's hip factor by the tightness of its audience's jeans, then Hot Chip is probably at the zenith of cool. When the London-based quartet performed a sold-out show at 9:30 club on Friday, snug-fitting pants were so numerous that the band might as well have been playing an Urban Outfitters in-store.

It didn't take long for things to get loose, though. By the second song of its set, Hot Chip had the crowd un-self-consciously undulating to dance music that somehow melded the trance sensibilities of Kraftwerk to the sound palette of Southern hip-hop. During songs like "Hold On" -- drawn from Hot Chip's recently released album "Made in the Dark" -- the bass frequencies were so pronounced that they caused the club's subwoofers to send pulsing blasts of humid air from the sweaty dancers at the front row into the wallflowers at the back of the club.

The audience may have looked sharp, but Hot Chip appeared deceptively nerdy. Sporting a few pairs of heavy glasses and some serious cases of bedhead, the band members could have easily been mistaken for a gang of IT department refugees. However, lead singer Alexis Taylor displayed a deep range, applying a surprisingly soulful touch during the ballad "In the Privacy of Our Love" and pop swagger while dropping lyrics from New Order's "Temptation" into the band's own composition "No Fit State." "Don't Dance," chanted Taylor during a stumbling and funky song of the same name. Nobody complied with his demands.

-- Aaron Leitko

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